Monday, January 28, 2002

Ask a Stupid Question

Treasurer won't keep your taxes

By Mike Pulfer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Question: “My Hamilton County real estate tax bill instructs me to write my check to Robert A. Goering. I think my taxes should be paid to Hamilton County. Why should I pay Mr. Goering?”

        Answer: You shouldn't. Or maybe you should, if you're his relative and you've been borrowing money.

        But your property taxes, due Thursday, should go to the county, and they do. Mr. Goering's name is simply a designator that helps make sure millions of dollars go to the right bank accounts.

        “The county has many departments making deposits into various accounts, and to make sure that deposits get into the correct account, each has a specific name,” Mr. Goering explains. “Real-estate tax dollars are deposited into the account, "Robert A. Goering, Treasurer of Hamilton County' ”.

        If that's a little much for your downsized designer checks, "Hamilton County Auditor' or even "Hamilton County' will suffice, Mr. Goering's staff confirms. Local bankers are cleared to stamp and deposit these more generic checks without returning your mail to Bevis.

        “In 1999, we received a tax payment made out to Robert Jacobs,Treasurer,” said Mr. Goering, treasurer since 1991. “We requested and received special authorization from the bank to accept the tax payment. Of course, Mr. Jacobs was last the treasurer in 1971.” Most property owners seem to know who the treasurer is, but many of them, we're told, write their tax checks without names.

        Of course, name recognition is an important part of Hamilton County politics and the office of Hamilton County treasurer is an elected position. By writing the incumbent's name on a check twice a year, taxpayers are more likely to remember who he or she is.

        On the other hand, for some property owners, tax time is not a particularly happy time, and a sour attitude could ride along to the polls with that recognition.

        If you have a stupid question, send it to Ask a Stupid Question, Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202; fax: 768-8330; e-mail


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