Half of property taxes unpaid

Published 11:59 pm Friday, December 26, 2008

With less than one week before unpaid property taxes become delinquent, $6.14 million of the more than $11 million billed in October remains unpaid and will become delinquent on Jan. 2, said Covington County Revenue Commissioner Janice Hart.

It has been a slow collection process during the last several months; however, Hart said she expects a big push at the end of the year.

“People want to hold on to their money as long as they can and generally wait until after Christmas,” she said. “But in doing that, they run the risk of standing in line when they come to pay, and I can bet it’s going to be a long wait.”

Hart said taxpayers may also file a homeowner’s exemption for any newly purchased property when paying their taxes.

“If it’s newly purchased property, the owner has to let us know what property is being used for,” she said. “If they don’t, there is a penalty that is added on top of their taxes for the year.”

To qualify for the homeowner’s exemption, 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.

Deadline for payment is Dec. 31, with a late fee and penalty assessed on Jan. 2, Hart said.

“There is a $5 late fee and a 1 percent interest added to the total bill if it’s paid after the deadline,” she said. “For each month it’s late, those fees and interest accrue.”

If the taxes remain unpaid in April, the property is placed on the delinquent taxes list. If it remains unpaid through April, the property is placed up for sale in May.

“We can’t carry anything over through the New Year, so if you don’t pay, it’s on the sale list,” Hart said. “However, all that can be avoided if you pay your property taxes on time.”

Residents should note that the courthouse will reopen on Mon., Dec. 29, and 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.