Locals paying taxes slowly

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Local residents have paid in an estimated 10 percent of the more than $11 million billed last month in annual property tax.

Dian-ne Thom-pkins, chief revenue clerk, said the notices at the end of September and must be paid prior to Dec. 30 to avoid a late penalty. At present, $1.3 million has been collected.

Collections started briskly, she said.

“But, now, they’ve slowed down quite a bit, which is what you’d expect,” Thompkins said. “Our biggest collections come when mortgage payments start coming in. Then, we’ll start to see that $10 million-or-so total begin to drop quickly.”

“Mortgage payments” refer to the remittance by lenders who collect property tax payments along with regular mortgage payments and hold them in escrow.

Thompkins said those who may have purchased a new home during the last fiscal year should apply for homestead exemption before the end of the year.

“If you bought your home prior to Oct. 1, and it’s your primary residence, then by all means come in and apply for the exemption,” she said. “It can make a difference in the amount owed.”

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. A penalty fee is assessed on those paying after the deadline.

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.