A California man who failed to pay his property taxes for over five years has finally come up with the money — but he made local tax office workers count nearly $15,000 worth of change and dollar bills.
Larry Gasper of Redding, Calif. brought in a wheelbarrow and two buckets worth of coins and cash to the Shasta County Tax Collector’s Office on Wednesday afternoon. Gasper rolled and collected the coins and bills until he had enough to clear his debt.
“It took four of my staff a little over two hours just to count all the cash,” Mary Axelson, chief deputy collector at the Shasta County Tax Collector’s Office, told ABCNews.com. “And then it took probably another hour to get it bagged up to go to the bank.”
“We had to run it through the machine to make sure it wasn’t counterfeit, and then we counted all of it by hand,” Axelson said.
If Gasper had not paid the bill, his property would have been auctioned off next month. He said he lost his tree business a couple of years ago.
“I had to borrow some money,” he told ABC News affiliate KRCR. “I’ve missed a few payments on my home to pay for my taxes for this piece of property.
“My grand-kids’ piggy banks, my daughters’ piggy banks, my money, my change and a lot of people have offered to help a bit,” he said.
Axelson, from the tax collector’s office, said, “He hadn’t paid [his property taxes] since the 2006-2007 fiscal year. There was about $15,000 in the wagon. The amount we needed was $12,658,” said Axelson.
Axelson said Gasper’s display was “obviously his way to protest” the auction.
“He just came in with a big chip on his shoulder,” Axelson said. “I just said, ‘We’ll take it.’”
Gasper could also have paid his current tax bill while he was at the tax office – which amounted to $1,382 – but chose not to, Axelson said.
“We gave him back what we did not need,” she said.
Gasper had previously attempted to pay part of his bill but the county declined to accept it, KRCR reported.
“We couldn’t accomplish what he wanted — which was to remove [the property] from our auction — without all of the money,” Axelson said.
According to Axelson, Gasper needed to come in by June 30, 2012 to pay 20 percent of the amount due in order to get off the county’s list of tax-defaulted properties for auction. Since he had failed to pay before that date, he now needed to pay the full amount.
“I could have turned him away. There is a taxation code section that says we do not have to take payment in coin,” Axelson said. “But he came in looking for some confrontation and I just wasn’t going to give it to him.”