Taxpayers are singing the praises of a sharp-eyed woman from Penticton, B.C. this week after she discovered an error on every homeowner's tax bill worth hundreds of dollars.

Judie Shinz became suspicious about a $408 hike in her property tax that didn't seem right.

"Kinda excessive. Haven't had an increase ever in any house that we've owned," Shinz told CBC News.

That prompted Shinz to get out her calculator and make some phone calls.

She soon discovered the city had used the mill rate for the wrong school district to calculate the school tax portion of the bill — and not only on Shinz's bill, but for every homeowner in the city.

Revised bills on the way

The city's chief financial officer Colin Fisher calls it an unfortunate administrative error, and says the city is mailing out new bills to every home.

"Most people are actually quite happy when they discover they are actually paying less."

Besides losing the erroneous tax revenue, the mistake will also cost the city $12,000 to re-issue and mail the bills.

Shinz says the city needs to do a better job checking their work before issuing tax bills.

"Where's their double-check? And if they have a double-check, maybe they need a triple-check to make sure that they are using the correct figure," she says.

In the meantime Shinz says neighbours and even strangers are calling to thank her for sorting it out.   

"They are saying, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.' I've had a couple of phone calls from people I don't even know. Everybody is very appreciative that it was caught. I guess I am glad that I was the one that caught it," she said.  


  • A earlier version of this story mistakenly said that there was a $400 error in Shinz's property tax bill. The error was actually $220, which was part of a $408 tax increase on her bill.
    Jun 13, 2014 1:05 PM PT
With files from Brady Strachan