$11.2M in property taxes billed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2012

County residents may have gotten a surprise when opening mailboxes today – their annual property tax bills.

Janice Hart, county revenue clerk, said the notices, which totaled $11,205,300, went out in two waves – the first on Friday and the latter on Monday.

That total is down just over $33,000 from 2011.

“Those in Andalusia started getting them over the weekend, and I’m sure others will get theirs (today),” Hart said.

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

“By law, (the office) only is 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; however, there is a slight change to the over 65 disability exemptions, Hart said.

“The taxable income limit has increased from $7,500 to $12,000 annually, which is better for local residents,” she said. “You do have to present proof of income and your driver’s licenses when you apply. This applies to both the over 65 exemption and the disabled exemption.”

Previously, there was no income limit on the disabled exemption, Hart said.

Those who wish to apply must do so in the office and bring a copy of last year’s tax return or an income statement from the Social Security Administration.

Last year, some 3,200 residents applied for the exemptions.

To qualify for the homestead exemption, property owners must have resided in the property since at least September 2011.

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.