12/08/09 — Month left before taxes overdue

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Month left before taxes overdue

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 8, 2009 1:46 PM

Wayne County taxpayers have about a month left in which to pay their 2009 property taxes without facing any penalties.

The deadline is Jan. 5 at 5 p.m. The late penalty starts the next day.

Residents who plan to mail their payments should ensure that it the envelope is postmarked by U.S. Postal Service equipment by 5 p.m. on Jan. 5 .

"If they mail it in and meter it with an office metering machine that does not qualify," Tax Administrator David Ward said. "The best advice is to get it to the post office, if you are waiting to the last day, early enough so they will process it and stamp it themselves."

Interest starts accruing Jan. 6 at the rate of 2 percent that day and on the first day of each following month an additional three-fourths of one percent will accrue for any outstanding balances.

County tax collections account for roughly $42 million to $43 million. The county also collects for all of the county's municipalities, with the exception of Walnut Creek.

Ward said it would be premature to predict how the collections will go.

"This time of year it is really early," he said. "At any given time, things are going to be up and down, the reason being we have a lot of mortgage companies. A lot of people have escrow accounts. They (companies) send those to us basically en masse and times vary each year when they send them in.

Ward said the tax office likes to have them as soon as possible, but that the deliveries vary. He noted that even with the economic downturn that last year's collection rate was down by just .32 percent.

"That is not bad given the economy we were in and what we were faced with and the challenges we had last year," Ward said.

Ward said his office is willing to work with taxpayers who are having difficulties paying their taxes. However, in some cases, the county has had to use forced collections.

"We can attach wages, bank accounts and we can attach rents for rental properties and things like that," Ward said.

The county also can foreclose on property. However, that is usually the county's last resort, Ward said.

"Each year we do forced collections quite a bit," Ward said. "What we suggest to folks -- it is too late in the year to do it now -- we have people who come in who may be on a fixed income or elderly or whatever the situation and say they have a hard time coming up with the money at the end of the year.

"We tell them you know about what your house and lot cost each year in taxes. First of all if you are behind and delinquent, we want to get up caught up and in short order."

Ward suggests people use that information to set up a plan to pay on the taxes throughout the year so they will not be faced with a large payment at the end of the year.

Ward said several hundred people do so each year because it is easier to do.

"We will be glad to work with them," he said. "But then again, I always try to specify that if you are late on your taxes we need to get the caught up first."