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County confirms duplicate property tax bills, blames vendor error

Flags outside county government headquarters in Courthouse (photo courtesy Arlington County)

(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) A printing vendor accidentally mailed tens of thousands of duplicate property tax bills to Arlington property owners, the county said today.

ARLnow started getting reports from readers earlier this week about the rogue mailings.

“We received a duplicate real estate tax bill today and contacted a couple of friends who also don’t have mortgages and they did too,” said one reader. “All of us have already paid and, in any case, the taxes aren’t due until 6/15.”

“Isn’t this a terrible waste of time and postage expense of our tax dollars by the county?” the reader added.

In each case, the readers said they countacted the county, which confirmed that they had in fact paid and the mailings were sent in error.

Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava tells ARLnow that her office is not at fault and taxpayers won’t bear the extra expense, though she apologized for the confusion the letters caused.

The county treasurer’s office is issuing the following statement this afternoon.

The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office discovered yesterday, May 31, 2022, that an error made by our external print vendor resulted in the printing and mailing of approximately 26,000 duplicate letters to our taxpayers.  The vast majority of these duplicate letters were real estate tax bills, and we regret the confusion and inconvenience that this error has caused our customers.

The Treasurer’s Office routinely sends test files to our outside print vendor before major billings like the recent billing for 1st installment real estate taxes.  Although our office followed established procedures, unfortunately our external print vendor did not. A print vendor employee mistakenly printed and mailed letters from the test environment, and Arlington County customers began to receive the letters last weekend.

Arlington County taxpayers will not bear any of the cost of printing and postage resulting from this error. In addition, we will work with our print vendor to improve their internal control procedures to prevent errors like this from occurring in the future.  If you are concerned about a particular bill, please email us at [email protected] or call 703-228-3702.

De la Pava estimated the total cost of the mailing, had the county been on the hook for it, at around $14,000.

A similar incident involving a “significant number” of duplicate tax bills happened in 2016. It was blamed on “a glitch” in sending data to the printing contractor.

“We are currently having conversations with [the contractor] to find out what processes and procedures they have in place, or can put in place, to stop duplicate files from being printed and mailed,” de la Pava told the Sun Gazette at the time.

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