LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A 95-year-old Long Island woman is now trying to convince her tax assessor and her bank that she is very much alive.
She has found out that once someone is declared, or assumed, dead, the process to prove otherwise is not always an easy fix, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.
"They said that they thought that I was dead. Do I look dead to you?" Anne Mazze said.
The feisty Levittown homeowner said her assessment taxes tripled, and she lost enhanced senior and veterans exemptions when her family filed a new deed on her Periwinkle Road property.
"I would automatically think when someone is dead, wouldn't they want to maybe get a death certificate?" Mazze said. "They just seemed to pass the buck from one person to another."
Blaming the Democrat-appointed assessor, Nassau County Republicans pounced on the death mix up and tax issue.
"The government does not take names off deeds. They messed up, period. They thought that this young lady next to me was deceased, and as a result they are paying $800 more a month on taxes," Legislator John Ferretti said.
A recent study determined that every year in the United States some 12,000 citizens who are alive are declared dead by the Social Security Administration.
Experts say reversing an incorrect declaration of death can be a time-consuming and difficult process, whether a victim of fraud or honest error.
"Most likely, a death certificate would have come through my office," Hempstead Town Clerk Kate Murray said. "But the bottom line is, she wasn't declared dead; she was assumed dead. She now finds herself in this bureaucratic morass in trying to get her rights restored."
The county responded to Mazze's plight, saying in a statement, "The taxpayer's daughter was in contact with the Department of Assessment on April 22 and corrections were made right away, along with a petition that will be approved by the Legislature on Monday to refund the taxpayer."
Mazze said she can't wait for restitution because she's going broke.
"I don't know where they got the information from. I don't know who they got the information from. But that's what they said, 'I'm dead,'" Mazze said.
She said she hopes there are no lingering repercussions convincing the world that she and her reputation are very much alive.
The Nassau assessor's office said Mazze will soon be refunded the overpayment dollars, and it extended an apology.
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