By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room
The simple version. We received a notice from the Palm Beach County Tax assessor informing us that Dotty's over 65 years old real estate tax exemption had been denied. Never mind that Dotty has been living full time in the same exact place since 1977 and has been over 65 since June 29, 1981.
I give them a call, and they then proceed to tell me she was denied because we didn't fill in the annual form that is needed if you want to keep your real estate tax exemption.
Is it 2011?
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We sent the form in via snail mail six months ago, the county says they never received it.
In Palm Beach County, Florida every year they send you a form. They actually put this form in the mail and send it to you. You are required by law to sign the form and prove you are alive by including a copy of your tax return. If you don't file a tax return, Dotty doesn't, then you include a copy of you annual social security statement and 1099s from any other income you receive.
Imagine, you make copies of all of this, sign the form and send it back. This explains in part why the federal government, city, county and state governments are going broke. Can you imagine the county taking in all that paperwork and all the man/woman hours it takes to scan the information and key the information into a computer?
At any rate, in Palm Beach County you have to prove every year that you are over 65 years old. And then the County gets to play with a mountain of paperwork and pay a mountain of people out of the tax money they are receiving.
Can you believe I had my first bank card, you know the ATM card, in 1972. Amazing how you can do all your banking without ever going into a bank. Think there is any chance Palm Beach County could make a deal with Social Security and the banks and determine that in fact Dotty is over 65, and still living in the same place. No paper work and about one one hundredth of the cost.
So anyway. First thing wt have to do is go out west about 10 miles and show the county valuation board the same information I already sent them. I go in and explain to the woman that Dotty is 95 years old, that is 30 years over 65, and can I do the first part of the paper work and then take it outside for Dotty to sign and then bring it back in. The alternative. Get the wheelchair out of the car, put Dotty in it, roll her in, do the paperwork, roll Dotty back out, put her in the car, and put the wheel chair back in the car. The nice kind women says we will do it the easy way.
Of course, I take the paperwork out to the car and have immediate feelings of trepidation. It dawns on me that I really don't know if Dotty can sign her name. Whew. No problemo. Dotty signs like a champ.
I go in and you would think we are done, right. I just gave them all the information they wanted in the first place. Not in Palm Beach County Florida.
We now have to go ten miles in the opposite direction to the County Court house. That's right. They want to see Dotty sign one line on the new form they just gave us. They want to see her sign it in person. No snail mail.
Down to the Court House. I won't bore you with the details but I have to take Dotty into the Court House, through the metal detector, while she sits in her wheel chair, and into this giant waiting room full of people. They give us a number and tell us to wait. I sit down and ask the women sitting next to me, how long have you been here. She tells me -- an hour and ten minutes. This is Palm Beach County Florida.
So I get up and start pacing around the room. I look up and through one of the plate glass windows I see a woman and she smiles and waves at me. She looks vaguely familiar. Next thing I know, here she comes through the main door to this giant waiting room and says.
The guy that takes his mother out on Friday nights to the Banana Boat. I say yes I am. She then proceeds to tell me what a wonderful son I am.
I ask, wanna talk to Dotty? She asks is she here? I point across the room at Dotty sitting in the wheel chair. The woman actually said, Oh My, is she all right? I explain it is too far for Dotty to walk from the parking building to the Court House. I also tell her, no way will Dotty ride the wheel chair into the Banana Boat.
She goes over and yaks with Dotty. Then she gives me a hug and says, you'll be out of here shortly and we were. Maybe 20 minutes total from the time we entered the waiting room.
I skipped the part where Dotty kept asking me if we were going to jail.
Next, I took Dotty to Checkers -- the burger place. They have these seasoned french fries that Dotty loves. Dotty while munching down on her Checkers french fries informs me that french fries might be her favorite food. I should have had my video camera with me. Dotty really looked quite happy and content eating those fries.
By they way, Dotty did not complain at all during this ordeal.
so it went great as far as I am concerned.
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Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,800 articles with more than 602,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room