A 89-year-old New Jersey woman with Alzheimer’s disease nearly lost her home of 50 years because she owed a grand total of six cents in back taxes.
Ocean Township officials put Glen Kristi Goldenthal’s home up for sale on September 9 after the tiny debt she owed on her taxes accrued to more than $300 with interest and administrative costs, according to WNBC.
The woman’s story gained traction after her daughter, Lisa Suhay, took to social media.
Suhay, who lives in Virginia, slammed the city’s lack of imagination for failing to come up with six pennies “in an office full of people” to cover Goldenthal’s debt. Suhay said she only found out about her mother’s situation after her house was put up for sale.
“She’s called me dozens of times in the last 24 hours: ‘Is my house gonna be OK? Do I have to pack? Where am I gonna go live?’” Suhay said.
Suhay said her mom received at least one warning call from a tax collector, but her Alzheimer’s made her forget. Even the tax collector could tell all was not well, Suhay added.
“Apparently the tax collector called her because when I talked to him, he said he realized there was something wrong, that she didn’t understand,” Suhay said. “[I said] I’m sorry, you’re selling my mother’s house today because she owes you six cents. He said yeah, it’s amazing how these things snowball. … I was like, ‘It’s six cents!’”
Suhay said she contacted Ocean Township Mayor Christopher Siciliano, who apologized for the situation.
“Naturally it’s really embarrassing the town would put someone’s home up for sale over six cents,” Siciliano said. “It’s silly.”
Suhay said she paid off her mom’s debt and the house was taken off the market but is still infuriated that it was put up forsale in the first place.
Goldenthal’s near-tragic story has prompted Siciliano to try to fix the state’s tax law that allowed it to happen.
The mayor has reached out to state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, to discuss thresholds municipalities can place on the amount of delinquent taxes are owed before a sales tax is triggered.