Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thanks for the opportunity, but are you absolutely crazy?

Hey, everybody!

You will be able to pay your Milwaukee property taxes with a credit card! Gee, golly, gosh, oh my, isn't that exciting?

And all you have to do to take advantage of this stupendous offer is cough up a 2.5% "convenience" fee! That's an extra $75 on a a $3,000 tax bill, or $150 on a $6,000 tax bill.

What is the extra convenience that the payer of the $6,000 bill gets that makes it worth twice the convenience fee? Is it legal, or should we call the vice squad?

No, thanks, City Hall. We'll pay by mail, for the price of a 41-cent stamp.


Dean said...

See? Now most businesses eat that cost, but governments? Right.

Anonymous said...

Can you say "frequent flyer miles"?

Seth Zlotocha said...

Businesses "eating costs" either reduces profit or results in higher prices. Since governments don't have a profit margin, "eating the cost" would just result in using some other tax or fee to compensate for the loss. Isn't it more appropriate for the person using the credit card to pay the fee than for that charge to be spread out amongst those who don't?

That said, it's obviously not a good idea to pay taxes by credit card. But if the option wasn't there, you know some people would be complaining about that, too.

And the convenience charges originate with the credit card companies, and they're the ones that dictate that the charges get applied on a percentage basis rather than a flat rate, which is why the person with the larger tax bill needs to pay more.

Jennifer J. Hoffman said...

If you are ever at the Milwaukee County Courthouse to post bail, they have a similar "convenience fee" scheme that is just completely outrageous. I'm not surprised they did something similar with the property taxes.