$11.2M in taxes billed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2011

Freddie Merrill writes a check for his property tax Wednesday, while Tammy Roberts, clerk, assists.

County residents may have gotten a surprise when opening mailboxes this week – their annual property tax bill.

Dianne Thompkins, chief revenue clerk, said the notices, which totaled $11,238,000, were mailed at the end of last week.

“Those in Andalusia started getting them on Monday, and we’ve even had a few to come on in and pay,” Thompkins said. “In fact, we’ve already collected $120,000; mostly from people living here in Andalusia.”

Thompkins said the annual ad valorem tax total billed out is down slightly from 2010.

“Public utilities values are down for some reason,” she said. “Those figures, we get from the state, and we’re not sure why they’re down.”

Thompkins said the office is still unable to accept credit card or debit card payments.

“By law, (the office) is only allowed to collect what is due, which means we can’t collect a transaction fee (that most card machine companies charge),” she said. “It’s frustrating for us and for the customer, we know.”

There are property tax exemptions available to those who qualify, such as the homestead exemption and an exemption for the disabled and one for property owners over 65 that own and live on property. Those who wish to apply must do so in the office.

To qualify for the homestead exemption, property owners must have resided in the property since at least September 2010.

If one qualifies, one must pay 10 percent the assessed value of the property.

Residents who receive a tax bill have until Dec. 31 to pay the property tax. If that deadline is missed, there is a penalty fee. Taxpayers have two options in which to pay – they can either come to the courthouse or they return the payment through the mail.

The revenue commissioner’s office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. When paying by mail, send the bill or bills and payment to “Revenue Commissioner, 1 North Court Square, Suite G, Andalusia, AL 36420.”

Residents should also bring their bills to the courthouse, in order to expedite the process.

Property taxes are distributed to the school systems, the county’s general fund and road/bridge fund, among other areas.