City Of Portland
To whom it may concern,
On April 14th I attempted to pay the Portland Arts Tax. I used the city’s online payment system at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/revenue/artstax/ . I didn’t know that the city had extended the deadline for payment by a month, and wanted to be sure I paid all my taxes before the April 15th tax deadline. At your website I completed a transaction, was thanked for my payment, received a receipt and a confirmation number, and thought the matter settled.
Then, on April 24th I received a demand for payment from the City of Portland for sixty dollars — $35 in unpaid taxes plus an additional $25 “returned item fee,” on or before May 4th. I investigated with my bank, who assured me that they had not returned any items, or seen any transaction attempted at all, even though funds were available in my account for the whole month of April. They suggested I may have made a typo.
I paid the tax again online, on April 29th, using a credit card. I have confirmed that the funds left my account on April 30th..
I am writing now to protest this ludicrous and arbitrary assessment of $25 — an extra 71% on top of the tax itself — as well as your infuriating demand that I pay the Portland Arts Tax by May 4th, eleven days earlier than the May 15th deadline for all other citizens of Portland. Why is this my reward for trying to responsibly pay a tax that thousands of citizens are trying to dodge?
How can such fees be justified? If the City of Portland has incurred any costs or damages due to an online banking transaction error (which I highly doubt), they might as well consider it part of the cost of extracting wealth from their citizens, like any other entity that accepts online payments. I don’t know what caused this transaction error. I may have mistyped a digit, or there might just as easily have been a technology failure with your website, or at your bank, or at my bank. At any other online payment site, a transaction is checked before it’s run, and if it fails for any technical reason the user simply tries again. To levy massive fines against honest customers for unexplained technical failures or simple human mistakes is pure extortion.
I have paid my taxes on time, and that is all I’m paying.