MOUNT VERNON — The increasing use of technology can be seen in almost every aspect of life. But technology has its share of glitches, as the Mount Vernon Income Tax Department found out firsthand when the filing program inadvertently sent billing statements out to 153 residents.
Those residents filed their 2009 income taxes online through the office’s new program, which allows people to work from any computer location.
“This is the first year we ran the e-file program,” said Debbie Tyson, department tax administrator. “The 153 who participated in the program had to enter a tax amount withheld, and in doing so, the software program automatically filled in a declaration of estimated tax.”
Based on those declarations, the billing statements were sent out at the end of June. Once they reached the residents, the income tax office began to receive phone calls from taxpayers.
“We discovered very quickly that there was a problem,” she said. “We looked over the whole system and learned that 153 of the people that received statements did not owe estimated payments because their taxes were withheld by their employers. I immediately corrected the problem so it won’t be filling in [automatically].”
The residents who received these statements in error, Tyson said, should disregard them.
Tyson also called Insource, the computer software company, which worked on the program to ensure the problem will not occur again.
“E-file is for those people who have their taxes withheld. There is no money exchange involved, it has already been sent through by their employer to the city,” she said.
Tyson apologized for the error and said letters will be sent out to the residents.
“If by chance someone went ahead and paid it, we will be watching for that,” she said.
Tyson hopes this will not discourage people from filing online.
“It’s a good paper-saving system,” she said.
Prior to this incident, Tyson said, the program has run well and people have liked the convenience of filing online.
With the incident being an internal problem, Tyson said there is no chance consumer confidential information was leaked.