This year the office will add more teller windows, “self-serve” kiosks and other equipment to provide more customer service and speed the payment process.
“Nobody likes paying taxes but we want to make it as easy and convenient as possible,” he said.
Barber said the tax office will also offer free payment by electronic check for the first time, which increases convenience and reduces expenses.
The tax office accepts cash, check, money order or credit card, debit card and electronic check payment.
But Barber is stressing the use of electronic check this year.
“It's cheaper than postage or paying with a credit card and more convenient than driving across town and standing in line to pay,” he said.
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 debit cards is $3.95.
Taxpayers can access their tax information at smith-county.com. Taxpayers can post payments and print receipts.
More than 164,000 tax notices will be mailed Monday, Barber said. The tax levy, which goes to school districts and other governmental jurisdictions around the county, is $262 million compared to $256.5 million last year.
Property tax bills are due upon receipt. The deadline for payment is Jan. 31.
Penalties begin at 7 percent on Feb. 1 and increase 2 percent per month until it reaches 15 percent in June. In July, penalties continue to escalate in 1 percent increments with an additional 15 percent collection fee.
Barber said taxpayers who cannot pay the full amount should try to make partial payments.
Residents 65 and older or disabled qualify for quarterly payments and no penalties or interest are assessed if they are received on time for homesteads. Residents must file for this exemption and make the first payment by Jan. 31.
Barber said property tax statements have not hit mailboxes yet but that some taxpayers are already using the website to pay their balances early.
Physical and technological improvements will also benefit taxpayers and tax office staff soon, Barber said. Walk-in customers will have three additional teller windows this year. “Self-serve” payment kiosks, with touch-screens and multiple payment options, will allow customers to access their tax information and pay.
Barber said the different payment options should make the process more efficient and easy.
The main tax office is in the Cotton Belt Building, 1517 W. Front St. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
Taxpayers can also make payments at the office in Lindale, 2616 S. Main St. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.