Thursday, December 9, 2010
No cards; tax bills arrive in envelopes
By SUE WATSON
The first week in December is when the Marshall County tax collector’s office starts sending out “Christmas cards” for the 2010 property tax year. This year, the format of real property tax notices has been changed to a sheet-style notice mailed in an envelope.
The cards were changed mostly because the postage meter was covering up some of the important tax information on the cards, said Betty Byrd, tax collector.
“I know they will be surprised because they are used to seeing the cards. They will arrive in an envelope instead of the traditional card and will have a return envelope included,” she said. “They also have space to pay by credit card, if you choose. This is a whole lot more informative and easier to read.”
Payment by credit card costs the taxpayer an extra three percent in service fees because the credit card payments are turned over and handled by a third party according to state law requirements, Byrd said.
The county has been offering payment by credit card for a number of years. The service fee for a tax bill of $100 would $3.
Other acceptable means of payment of taxes which do not include service fees include cash, personal or business check, money order or by cashier’s check, Byrd said.
This year there are no big increases in tax bills unless a person has made improvements on a property which would be included in the assessment value of the property. An exception, however, includes anyone who has real property in the Holly Springs School District where an increase of 1.9 mills was added for the school district.
If a person’s homestead status has changed, that is if they are disabled or 65 and over, they will not get a tax bill unless their property is valued at over $75,000. A real property that is valued at $100,000 would have taxes applied to only $25,000, if the individual has qualified for disabled or 65 and over on their homestead exemption status. January is a good month to check with the tax assessor’s office to update a homestead status if you had a 65th birthday in 2010.
“There is no big sticker shock, this year, thanks to the local government’s efforts to hold property taxes steady,” Byrd said.
Anyone who has a home mortgage where the banker holds an escrow account for the buyer, may check with the tax collector's office after February 1, 2011, to make sure the lender sent in the tax payment for the borrower, Byrd said. It is a very rare occasion when a lender fails to pay the tax from the escrow account, but it has happened, she said.
A person whose tax money is withheld in escrow will not get a tax notice. The notice will be sent to the lender instead, Byrd said.
“They (the lenders) are not going to let it lapse,” she said. “It is very, very rare.”
To date, the Legislative car tag tax credit is holding up, so there will be no increase tax on vehicle tags that are renewed.
Another option for individuals who are having difficulty coming up with their entire tax bill at once is the partial payment plan, put in place by the State Tax Commission.
To pay by partial payment, the property owner should pay half of their tax bill by the deadline, February 1, 2011. One-fourth of the tax bill will come due by May 1 and the final fourth will come due by July 1, 2011, Byrd said. To use the partial payment plan, the taxpayer will be charged one percent per month of the taxes owed until the bill has been paid off.
Byrd encourages anyone who has a question or a problem they need resolved to call the Holly Springs office at 662-252-3661 or the Byhalia office at 662-838-5395.
Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. excepting official government holidays.
“Our door is always open if anyone has any questions or concerns about the new tax notices or payment options,” Byrd said. “We will be glad to help you any way we can.”
To find information on a parcel of property, persons can visit the county’s website - www.marshallcounty.org and click on the tax collector’s page. The answers to basic tax questions are provided, as well as the property tax on any parcel in the county, which can be found by searching by name or parcel number.
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