Johnson County homeowner pays neighbor's property taxes for 14 years by mistake

Posted: 5:30 PM, Nov 01, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-01 19:53:41-04

JOHNSON COUNTY -- A Bargersville homeowner is fighting to get back thousands of dollars she unknowingly paid for her neighbor’s property taxes since 2002.

"It angers me because I feel somebody didn't do their job," said homeowner Cheryl Beck.

Cheryl Beck and her husband’s family split up their massive property before her husband passed away in 2002.

The military widow received 30 acres of land with a pole barn and her neighbor, also her sister-in-law, received a house, detached garage and two utility sheds.

Call 6 Investigates did some checking and learned the White River Township Assessor’s office made an error in 2002 and as a result, all of the structures were incorrectly assessed to Cheryl Beck’s parcel.

As a result, Cheryl Beck’s property tax bills for her 30 acres of land also included all the structures on her neighbor’s property.

"It angers me because I feel somebody didn't do their job," said Beck. “I got so upset.”

Cheryl Beck said because the house, garage and sheds were only assessed at about $60,000, the tax bill seemed reasonable for 30 acres of land.

“There was nothing, absolutely nothing on there to indicate it was not my property," said Beck.  “When you pay taxes on $60,000, it doesn’t amount to that much, but over the years it adds up.”

Beck said the only reason she found out was because her sister-in-law’s realtor discovered the error.

“The realtor informed me I’ve been paying my neighbor’s taxes since 2002,” said Beck. “I thought, oh my gosh! “

The White River Township Assessor’s office does not exist anymore.

The Johnson County Assessor took over their duties in 2009.

An October 11 letter from the Johnson County Assessor Mark Alexander acknowledged the error.

“It’s pretty evident that this wasn’t my fault, because it’s in writing,” said Beck.

Alexander told Call 6 Investigates his office, as well as the Johnson County Auditor, are working to determine exactly how much Beck overpaid and how they can get her money back.

They did offer a refund for taxes overpaid in 2013, 2014, 2015 and spring 2016.

But Cheryl Beck is not giving up on getting all of her money back.

“I know it’s just money, but if I could think of all the people I would give away money to, it wouldn’t be to (Johnson County government),” said Beck.

Call 6 Investigates was unable to reach Beck’s neighbor for a response.