Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stupidity tax

In my neighborhood, you can't park on the street on garbage pick-up day. That's normally not a problem, but I was home sick this past garbage day and absentmindedly left my car parked in the street. This yielded me a $15 parking violation. Fortunately, if paid within three business days, the ticket is only $7. And right there on the back of the ticket it said that I could pay online - what convenience!

I followed the URL listed on the citation, and here is what I found:


That's my tax dollars at work! But wait, it gets better. After some digging I discovered the actual URL. After a few more clicks, the website instructed me that I actually needed to go to http://www.officialpayments.com/ to make online payments. Once I clicked through to that site, I made a few more clicks and was asked to enter my "Jurisdiction Code." There was no such code on the citation. Fortunately, however, you can find what you're looking for by making some additional clicks and entering your state, "Payment Entity" (city) and "Payment Type."

That last bit of information is the kicker, as none of the payment types are "parking citation." One of them is "miscellaneous receivables," though, so I selected that one. When I clicked on "Make Payment," I was then kicked over to a different website, my city's "Internet Services" website.

On that page, there is no information about paying parking citations, just a bunch of information about paying city property taxes, none of which is relevant for me:


Notice how it says, "Miscellaneous Receivable invoices and Special Assessment bills may also be paid online," but does not anywhere give a link for doing so. That's "Internet Services" for you.

There is one link on the entire page, and it leads to the county website (yet another website!), but there is nothing there that bears the slightest resemblance to what I was trying to do.

In the end, I wrote my check for seven dollars by hand, slipped it into the yellow sleeve and dropped it in the mail. I had to pay 44 cents for a stamp, as opposed to a 3% fee (21 cents) for processing it online, but in the end it was worth it to be done with it. And I'm happy that my stupidity can help fund the greater stupidity... er... I mean the greater good.

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