December 27, 2008
Make your check payable to

A letter to the editor yesterday from Terry Beiswanger makes an interesting point.

In response to Wednesday's City and State cover article "Vasquez takes charge of county tax office / Commissioners vote 4-1 to fill recent vacancy": With a new individual in the tax assessor's office, is it truly necessary to list his name on everything his office generates?

We pay our taxes to the county, not to an individual. Will we need to spend more on letterhead, names on doors, etc.? Is it really necessary or is it an ego trip?

Good question. I've written my share of checks to Paul Bettencourt, and Carl Smith before him, and off the top of my head I can't think of another example of making a check for some government fee or tax payable to a person rather than an entity. When I've had to deal with a traffic ticket, I didn't pay the judge, I paid the city or county in question. I make my income tax payment to the IRS, not to Douglas Shulma. (Though I do recall Dave Barry joking about his close personal friend Roscoe Egger back in the day.) Point being, why should we make our checks out to whoever the Tax Assessor is, and not simply to "Harris County Tax Assessor"? And if that's always been a valid option, why aren't we told to use it on the auto registration and property tax forms? And finally, if a change is needed, who needs to make it happen? Can Commissioners Court order it, or would it take an act of the Legislature, assuming Leo Vasquez doesn't decide to do it on his own? I have no idea.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 27, 2008 to Local politics

I would love to hear the answer to your question. I have always wondered what that was all about; one of the stranger aspects of Texas government.

Posted by: Chris McKee on December 27, 2008 6:41 PM

The letter to the editor (at least the part you quoted) isn't asking the same thing you are asking. Of course new stationary, presentation cards, name plate, etc. are necessary for a new office holder. I wonder why the letter writer is of the opinion that these things cost so much.

To your question, I agree payments should be made to the county not the office holder.

Posted by: Matthew Venhaus on December 27, 2008 9:34 PM

I have always made my checks out to the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector. They've never refused it. This is a State issue. Commissioners Court has no voice in the matter, although (1) you have given them permission to use your tax money to buy lobbyists to influence state law makers on such matters, and (2) Commissioners Court feels they have the power to set policy of other elected officials by virtue of CC's ability to approve their budgets..

Posted by: Charles Hixon on December 28, 2008 12:55 PM
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