The Utah State Tax Commission on Tuesday sent out letters apologizing to about 800 residents who erroneously had received notification that, if they didn't pay their 2007 taxes, they would risk losing some of their most prized assets.

The threatening notifications went out on June 13 and stated that the addressees had failed to pay their state income tax and would have their assets seized. As it turned out, all those residents had already paid their taxes.

To compound the problem, the automated phone system the commission had set up to answer questions regarding the letter was so inundated that it disconnected callers, causing even more frustration for those anxious taxpayers. Commission tax analyst Charlie Roberts said the system was only able to accommodate up to 24 callers in its queue, so when scores of calls came in, the system was overloaded.

The commission blamed the notification mishap on a clerical mistake.

"It was a human error," Roberts said. "We have seasonal employees that come in during the high volume season and that letter was sent out inadvertently."

The commission will provide additional training to seasonal workers beginning next year. Roberts said the phone shutdown has been looked into and is unlikely to happen again.


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