Senior annoyed by county tax man

LIHUE — A senior citizen in Kapaa emailed The Garden Island recently to complain about a county employee who told him not to waste his time trying to get a property tax exemption that could save him over a thousand dollars. Here is the nature of the dispute.

Denis Gueret turned 60 last year, which made him eligible for a tax exemption established to lighten the financial burden on senior citizens that would knock $180,000 off the taxable value of his home.

He learned about the rule during a phone call to the county Department of Finance in late December. The employee he spoke to told Gueret he had already missed the Sept. 30 deadline but said he could appeal before the end of the year.

With only a few days left, Gueret took time off from work in order to make it to Lihue before the county offices closed, filed his appeal and paid the $25 fee.

“A few days later I got a call from the Property Tax Assessor office, from a gentleman who explained to me that I was wasting my time with this appeal,” Gueret wrote in an email to TGI. “He emphatically stated that there was not a shred of a chance that I would have my request granted, nobody ever does anyway, and besides this was my fault for not informing myself properly.”

According to Gueret, the tax assessor told him the $25 would be better spent paying bills and said he was welcome to return and get his money back.

“Why is county even bothering with this appeal charade?” Gueret asked in his email. “Talking to friends and colleagues, I have found out I’m not the only one who got conned into this silly little game. Just remove the appeal clause on the literature that comes along with the trash removal statement or make the appeal process a reality, not just some decorative knick-knack to give the appearance of good faith.”

Finance Director Reiko Matsuyama responded to Gueret’s complaint in an email Wednesday with the following statement:

“Our understanding is that the appraiser was trying to assist the taxpayer by merely informing him that it may not be in his best interest to appeal, as historically, the (Board of Review) has not ruled in favor of taxpayers who miss a home-exemption deadline. The appraiser had the right intentions in assisting the taxpayer, but we understand how it could have been misinterpreted.”

Gueret was less than satisfied with Matsuyama’s explanation, which he described as going in a circle.

“If I was wasting my time, then don’t let me file,” he said.

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Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

4 Comments
  1. Jake January 12, 2020 6:00 am Reply

    The appeal process is for “extenuating circumstances”. Were you out of the country? Are you Active Duty Military and deployed? Did you just spend an extended time in the hospital due to an accident?

    You don’t appeal, just to appeal. The tax office did the fair thing, and you complain because you were late???


  2. Forealz January 12, 2020 6:10 am Reply

    Someone didn’t understand something, still doesn’t and it’s a news story?


  3. metoo January 12, 2020 7:54 am Reply

    Same thing happened to me except they didn’t offer to return my $25!


  4. KHSGRAD January 12, 2020 7:58 am Reply

    The public/civil service problems of Kauai stem from
    Individuals beIng given employment positions which they are not qualified or educated to do and the unions which support all of the above….


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