The Penny Protest

A Frederick man wants to change rising taxes with…change

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    Cupped hands full of coins

    You know those people who pay for everything with exact change, counting out every penny. It seems like it takes an eternity, but they’re not willing to pay any other way. Well one Frederick, Md., man was dead set on paying one particular bill with change -- his taxes.

    Joe Schmidtlein took several bags of coins he had been collecting for years to the Frederick County Treasury last week to pay for his property taxes. He told the Frederick News-Post the thousands of coins were meant to send a message.

    “I figured I might as well put (the coins) to use,” Schmidtlein told the News-Post. “Take it to the man, the tax man.”

    Basically, Schmidtlein is tired of his taxes going up. Aren’t we all! For the record, Schmidtlein, property taxes went up this year from $5,012 to $5,174.

    Frederick County said that they accept coins and cash as payment, but the clerk has to count every coin, and the person paying with change has to stay and watch the coins be counted. Seems to us like the county wanted them to have a little taste of their own medicine.

    Not only that, but the county won’t authorize overtime for a clerk to count the coins. That means if the counting continues until closing time or the end of the shift, the person paying would have to come back for day two of “sticking it to the man!” That’ll teach ‘em.

    Schmidtlein decided he didn’t want to wait around that long and ultimately wrote a check. But he did take the coins to a counter and found out he had $966.86 in coins.

    Lori Depies, the Frederick County Treasury Director, told the News-Post that someone tries to pay with coins as a statement about once a year. The tactic is questionable considering the penny protest winds up costing county employees hours of time in counting, she said.

    “They’re wasting government resources to do this,” Depies told the News-Post. “So they’re really punishing themselves and other taxpayers at the end of the day.”


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