Property tax due Friday

Published on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 23:35 - Written by Adam Russell arussell@tylerpaper.com

Property tax balances are due Friday.

Tax statements are due upon receipt, but the deadline for payment is Friday to avoid penalties.

Smith County Tax Assessor/Collector Gary Barber said he wanted to emphasize the easiest, cheapest way to pay property tax statements is online by electronic check.

Taxpayers who typically wait until the last minute should pay online to avoid missing the deadline and facing penalties, he said. Barber said he has noticed postmarks take later to post since the U.S. Postal Service closed its processing center near Tyler.

Barber stressed that only a postmark before the deadline would prevent penalties. Putting the tax bill in the mailbox does not guarantee it will be postmarked by the deadline, he said.

“Pay online because you get a receipt and know it’s taken care of,” he said. “We have people miss the deadline every year and are hit with the 7 percent penalty.”

The tax office accepts cash, check, money order, credit card, debit card and electronic check payment. The tax office accepts partial payments on current and delinquent taxes.

Barber said he would personally extend the hours for drop-off payments until 7 p.m. Friday. He said he would accept drop-offs in the Cotton Belt Building parking lot.

But Barber said electronic checks give taxpayers the easiest way to pay free of charge and without driving across town or standing in lines. Customers can print receipts so they are sure the balance is paid, he said. Barber said more and more residents are using electronic checks to pay tax bills and he hopes the trend continues.

Credit card payments include a convenience fee of 2.5 percent of the balance. The convenience fee would cost $125 on a $5,000 tax bill. The convenience fee for using debit cards is $3.95.

Walk-in customers will have three additional teller windows this year and access to “self-serve” payment kiosks, with touch-screens and multiple payment options. Customers can access tax information and pay with them. Staff will be on hand to assist taxpayers, he said.

Residents 65 and older, or disabled residents, qualify for quarterly payments. No penalties or interest are assessed if payments are received on time for homesteads.

Residents must file for this exemption and make the first payment on or before Friday.

Penalties begin at 7 percent Feb. 1 and increase 2 percent per month until it reaches 18 percent by July 1 in addition to a 15 percent collection fee.

Penalties continue to escalate in 1 percent increments after that. Barber said tax payments were about $5 million ahead of this time last year and 58 percent of the $270 million tax levy had been paid.

The main tax office is in the Cotton Belt Building, 1517 W. Front St. in Tyler. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Taxpayers also can make payments at the office in Lindale, 2616 S. Main St. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Taxpayers can access their tax information at smith-county.com.