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Old 07-10-2015, 07:34 AM   #41
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+1
It may or may not be a violation of the law. I think people cheating on their taxes is everyone's problems. I think sending a letter (perhaps anonymously) should be the extent of your involvement.
+1

Not sure I would do anythiing though.

Op, you cannot say 100% that the senior is not at some time living there and for the record I grew up in a NYC apartment 4 kids, 2 parents and a set of grandparents. You make do with the space you have, not everyone can afford to up and move to a mcmansion simply because their family grows.

Unless it immediately effects my health or welfare, I think long and hard before calling authorities on anyone.
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Old 07-10-2015, 07:36 AM   #42
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I think there was a similar thread recommending MYOB when employees were stealing from employers. This jist was "If Management is too stupid to see things right under their nose, then they deserve to be stolen from and I'm not going to report anything myself."

lol, until management decides to shut the business down then the employees start grumbling how unfair it is that they are out of a job while management got nice little golden parachutes. Actually happen to a firm I worked in.
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Old 07-10-2015, 07:52 AM   #43
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.. Snip...

However, recognize that there is some risk that if the neighbor finds out that you brought your suspicions to the attention of the authorities that they will likely be made as hell (keep your car in the garage if you have one).
Agreed with the entire post. This last section was the type of BS we lived with. Keyed cars, no help from LE(not their fault ) our lives totally messed up from not MMOB. Why put a literal target on your back?
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Old 07-10-2015, 07:53 AM   #44
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I am not sure if this is some form of tax evasion, although I think not, but why concern yourself with it. There is enough to be concerned about in the news.
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Old 07-10-2015, 08:10 AM   #45
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Soup: If you think and old woman's (suspected) tax avoidance is bad, please go read the Greece thread!
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Old 07-10-2015, 08:30 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by clifp View Post
+1
It may or may not be a violation of the law. I think people cheating on their taxes is everyone's problems. I think sending a letter (perhaps anonymously) should be the extent of your involvement.
+1
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Old 07-10-2015, 08:58 AM   #47
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Gaming the system, whether avoiding taxes (property, income, excise, liquor, sales, etc), fees, entitlements, etc is deemed a near professional sport in these parts.

Should I report my neighbor who drives 20 minutes to NH to avoid MA sales and liquor taxes? Or the guy who registers his car in NH but lives in MA to avoid sales, excise and registration fees? Or the folks who are getting multiple EBT cards and selling them for cash? What about the ones with multiple bankruptcies who buy all kinds of "stuff": cars, boats, houses with zero intention of ever paying for them? Or the older people who 'self impoverish' in order to get Medicaid pick up the nursing home tab? Or the guy who just won $2,000 off a bookie? What about the guy "working under the table" who collects unemployment?

At what point do you pick up the phone?
But this is exactly why it should be reported, I had the same issues with my neighbors, what started as small fraud became more and more fraud and then I realized like 1/2 the block was committing fraud and enough is enough, if the first one had gotten caught, the rest wouldn't have done it. Everything from the taking unemployment but not looking for a job, to cash business while taking food stamps and actually living off a trust fund, etc.

What I noticed the most during the recession is that it use to be that 1-5% of society that cheated the system which seemed to blow up to more like 20-30% were like well if others can do it why not me... it does't make a good society and not one I want to live in. There are already plenty of tax loopholes that are legit to use...no need to make up your own.
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:04 AM   #48
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I reread the original post. There could be a myriad of legitimate reasons why the owner does not appear to be living in her home. For example, perhaps she is a perpetual traveller who maintains a residence and her daughter and family are house sitting. Perhaps she is frequently hospitalized. You just don't know. My approach would be to give her the benefit of the doubt.

In my condo complex we recently had a complaint that a resident was operating an illegal daycare, which would violate city bylaws. Turned out the resident was child minding a niece. Just normal family stuff.
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:13 AM   #49
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The rules says you must physically occupy the property as your primary residence. The exception to this is if you move to a nursing home or hospital but intend to return to the house.

I readily admit I do not have certainty of anything. I live across the street and I regularly see the two adults and the six kids in the yard. I see other folks coming and going. I don't regularly see anyone who appears to be over 65.

The house is not a crackhouse by any stretch, but it is also not particularly well maintained. Grass is not regularly cut, cars are parked on the front lawn at times, it sounds like there is a rooster in the backyard (which is it's own code enforcement issue), etc. And the husband has just started some sort of distributorship out of his garage. So all this has raised my eyebrow.

I didn't go looking to get anyone in trouble, I came across this when I was researching my own property tax protest. But it feels a bit inequitable when someone has 5 kids in public school and is paying less than half of the current tax rate...and I am paying full fare and have zero kids in school. The bulk of the taxes go to the school district.

I am all for the over 65 exemption but I doubt it was intended to subsidize two healthy, employed 30-somethings with a lot of kids (if they are in fact abusing it).
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:20 AM   #50
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I am all for the over 65 exemption but I doubt it was intended to subsidize two healthy, employed 30-somethings with a lot of kids (if they are in fact abusing it).
Actually that is the whole problem with the 65 exemption, it is assuming you don't have children and thus shouldn't have to pay for schools any longer, but especially during the recession that just wasn't the case. Almost every person on my block had at least one child move home with them and often bringing their kids with them which overloaded our school district. It took 2-3 years and now they have all moved out but reality is its always unfair as A) I'm 40 and will never have kids but pay anyway B) my own father was 70 before my sister graduated so 65 is not the cut off for having kids C) with multi-generations it not a good way to figure out how many people are going to have kids going to school as many cultures will live with many generations in a home and thus would always use this exemption totally legitimately. It really should be when you apply for the exemption you also indicate, no children present in your home...that is the only way to be fair.
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:23 AM   #51
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But this is exactly why it should be reported, I had the same issues with my neighbors, what started as small fraud became more and more fraud and then I realized like 1/2 the block was committing fraud and enough is enough, if the first one had gotten caught, the rest wouldn't have done it. Everything from the taking unemployment but not looking for a job, to cash business while taking food stamps and actually living off a trust fund, etc.

.
Here's the other side of the question:

Ok, so you report it. WILL THOSE IN CHARGE DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT?. Too much paperwork, too much hassle, "don't get your hands dirty", hope it goes away, hope the complaintant forgets about it. That's how it works around here anyway.

You report it, get a reputation as a crank, nothing happens except your house gets egged.
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:44 AM   #52
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At this point it is a SUSPICION you have that she may not meet the qualifying criterea for the exemption which you feel MIGHT be unfair since she MIGHT not be living in the house and so for YOUR suspicions the jurisdiction SHOULD spend money investigating to try and determine if YOUR suspicions are correct because you pay more taxes.

My question is, if you are running a government how many of people's suspicions in your jurisdiction should be investigated and spent money on to ensure noone is getting a tax break where one is not deserved.

I suggest if you are truly believe this is something your community should not allow then you should have the guts to go to the house and ask about how they get their tax break and how they meet the requirements when it appears the mother doesn't live in the house. You could even be honest and state because you are paying such a high amount of taxes you were wondering what the rules were to get a favorable rate. Then you would have facts that you could approach the proper authorities and ask if this is correct for mortgage exemptions.

To be the guy behind the scenes trying to get the government to investigate a neighbor for you is not right in my books without discussing with the neighbor first.

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Old 07-10-2015, 09:49 AM   #53
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Actually that is the whole problem with the 65 exemption, it is assuming you don't have children and thus shouldn't have to pay for schools any longer....
The whole notion of that is a silly slippery slope... with that logic people with no kids shouldn't have to pay school taxes either. We all benefit from an educated population, some more than others perhaps, but we all share in the cost as they will be your neighbors and the one providing goods and services to you.
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Old 07-10-2015, 10:11 AM   #54
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But this is exactly why it should be reported, I had the same issues with my neighbors, what started as small fraud became more and more fraud and then I realized like 1/2 the block was committing fraud and enough is enough, if the first one had gotten caught, the rest wouldn't have done it. Everything from the taking unemployment but not looking for a job, to cash business while taking food stamps and actually living off a trust fund, etc.

What I noticed the most during the recession is that it use to be that 1-5% of society that cheated the system which seemed to blow up to more like 20-30% were like well if others can do it why not me... it does't make a good society and not one I want to live in. There are already plenty of tax loopholes that are legit to use...no need to make up your own.
What happened when you reported your neighbors? Did your city take care of the fraud?
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Old 07-10-2015, 10:16 AM   #55
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The whole notion of that is a silly slippery slope... with that logic people with no kids shouldn't have to pay school taxes either...
Only in recent years when I approached retirement age that I realized that SS is a pay-as-you-go system and relies on young workers to keep it going. And even if you take your money and go live on an island, you still need workers to support you in your old age, and hope that they do not turn on you.

Anyway, back on the OP's neighbor, there is no clear cut evidence that there's foul play. So, I would not jump to conclusion and do anything.
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Old 07-10-2015, 10:18 AM   #56
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The whole notion of that is a silly slippery slope... with that logic people with no kids shouldn't have to pay school taxes either. We all benefit from an educated population, some more than others perhaps, but we all share in the cost as they will be your neighbors and the one providing goods and services to you.
I don't think the assumption here is give the seniors a break because they probably don't have kids. But rather, give them a break because they've been paying into the system all these decades, in many cases more than their fair share, so now in their golden years, and perhaps on a fixed income, it's time to cut them some slack.

In Maryland, there's some kind of property tax credit you can get once you reach 65, but it's set up mainly to help lower income people. Combined gross household income can't be more than $60K per year, and total net worth can't exceed $200,000. $60K and $200K might sound like high-dollar amounts, but around these parts it isn't.

Of course, in our tax system, nothing is fair if you did into it far enough. For instance, I pay an extra $400 or so on my tax bill for a "front foot benefit", for my 271 feet of property that front the road. Yet my neighbors across the street, who have a flag lot with only 15 feet, only pay a few bucks. And another set of neighbors, who have no front footage, but rather a right of way across someone else's property, don't pay that fee at all. Yet, we all benefit the same from access to the road. I don't benefit any more, by paying extra. In fact, you could argue that it's a detriment to me, because I have less privacy with so much of my property facing the street. But, it balances out in other ways, I'm sure.
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Old 07-10-2015, 10:18 AM   #57
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I'm looking into the "member of clergy" property tax exemption. How involved could it be?
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Old 07-10-2015, 10:20 AM   #58
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Oh, back to the original story, one potential consequence I thought of, with reporting the neighbors. If their taxes go up and the old lady can't afford them anymore, they might lose the house. If it goes into foreclosure, the occupants might become squatters, and ultimately trash it, and it could become a blight on the neighborhood and bring everybody's values down.
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Old 07-10-2015, 10:33 AM   #59
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Having read this entire thread, some thoughts come to mind.

1. I thought I was a bit annoyed with one of my neighbors, but wow - at least he minds his own business and doesn't spend his free time trying to figure out if everyone on the block is a saint.

2. I'm truly astonished by all the emphasis on what is or isn't "fair" in this (supposed-maybe) situation. My father told me when I was 7 years old that life isn't fair, and I've never seen any evidence to contradict him in the 50+ years since then.

Technically, I suppose it isn't "fair" that I pay property taxes to support the schools, since I have always been childfree. However, as was already pointed out by a poster above, I would rather pay them and live in a community with educated children, who will someday be adults, than the alternative.

3. I live in the south, and even if I were royally annoyed with a neighbor, I wouldn't snitch on them to the authorities unless they were harming someone who could not defend themselves (child, elderly person, pet). Almost everyone here (myself excepted) has a gun (or several) and everyone has a long memory. I choose to take "live and let live" quite literally for those reasons!

4. The OP could have MUCH worse things to deal with neighbor-wise.
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Old 07-10-2015, 11:12 AM   #60
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