It's not unusual for counties to receive duplicate payments. In cases when this occurs, counties have the responsibility of returning the excess money to local residents who overpaid. However, this isn't adequately done in Travis County, Texas, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
Instead of issuing refunds, the county has been keeping annual property tax overpayments, adding an average of $1 million to its general fund each year.
Although the county does make some efforts to reimburse residents, it is behind the curve in comparison to the rest of Central Texas. According to Travis County tax office workers, the standard policy is to mail letters to alert property owners and lenders of overpayments. Depending on their workload, they may follow up with additional letters or phone calls, although there is no formal process in place for this.
After three years, unreturned overpayments can be transferred to the general fund – something that's happening at a considerably higher rate in Travis County than the nearby counties of Hays and Williamson, according to the news source.
Duplicate payments present a challenge for corporations as well, but they can use tools such as Technology Insight's DataShark A/P to capture and prevent such errors.