Property tax collection lags

Published 7:59 pm Thursday, December 11, 2008

Less than half of the more than $11 million in expected county property tax revenue had been collected, as of Thursday.

“It is still very slow,” said Diane Thompkins, chief clerk of the Covington County Revenue Commission. “We’re not even half way to what’s been billed out and there are less than three weeks left before the end of the month. Usually about this time, we have boxes and boxes of payments waiting to be processed, but not now. We’re caught up and waiting on customers to come in.”

As of Thursday, $3.5 million had been remitted by county residents for property taxes that came due Oct. 31. Residents must pay by Dec. 31 to avoid not only a 1 percent penalty but also a $5 late fee.

“Generally, people wait until after Christmas to pay, but when you do that you run the risk of having to stand in line,” Thompkins said. “Sometimes the wait is pretty significant too, but people can avoid that wait by mailing in their payments.

“A stamp is only going to cost 42 cents,” she said. “Your time and the gas up here are a lot more expensive than that, so take advantage of the mail. It will save you time.”

Additionally, a taxpayer may also file a homeowner’s exemption for any newly purchased property, she said.

To qualify, residents must have lived on the property for one year. By claiming the homeowner’s exemption, residents get a break on their property taxes by only having to pay 10 percent of the assessed value of the property.

Residents are encouraged to bring their property tax bills with them when making a payment.

Checks or money orders should be made payable to “Revenue Commissioner” and mailed to Revenue Commissioner, 1 Court Square, Andalusia, AL 36420.