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Why the Hefty Credit Card Fees on LA County Property Taxpayers?

DUNNING THE PROPERTY OWNERS-Those who didn’t pay their LA County property taxes on time -- the deadline was Tuesday -- have until 11:59 p.m. on December 10, when at the stroke of midnight, a 10% late fee will snap shut on them like a trap. 

In LA County, property taxes can be paid with a credit card, and many Angelenos struggling to make ends meet make use of that option, however fraught with costs and hidden risks it may be. 

LA County is not to blame for those risks and costs. But it is to blame for the fact that Angelenos who pay their property taxes with a credit card get charged a fee equal to 2.1% of their tax bill by the company which processes those payments. On a $5,000 tax bill that comes out to $105, not including the $5.95 fee.  

On what grounds can such an exorbitant fee be justified? It’s not the contractor who bears financial risk by processing tax payments. It’s the credit card companies.  

Why should the dollar amount of a tax payment affect the cost to process that payment? It obviously doesn’t, which is why the County’s arrangement with Fidelity Information Services, LLC, the company which charges -- and keeps 100% of the high fees -- needs rethinking.  

It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out that Fidelity Information Services, LLC is making a fortune off its “nice work if you can get it” arrangement with the County.  

Time to renegotiate

 

(Eric Preven is a CityWatch contributor and a Studio City based writer-producer and public advocate for better transparency in local government. He was a candidate in the 2015 election for Los Angeles City Council, 2nd District. Joshua Preven is a CityWatch contributor and teacher who lives in Los Angeles.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.