Property taxes are due soon

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 26, 2004

City and county tax offices have been busy this month ascitizens come in to pay their property tax bills before thedeadline.

“They’ve been coming in real good,” said City Tax Collector PatDuckworth. “We’re real pleased with it.”

Feb. 1 is the deadline for property owners to pay taxes withouta penalty. This year, owners have an extra day due to Feb. 1 beingon a Sunday.

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“They’ll actually have until Monday, Feb. 2,” Duckworthsaid.

Duckworth said people may come into the office to pay taxes thatday. However, anyone mailing in their payment must have theenvelope postmarked before Feb. 1.

In December, Duckworth’s office sent out approximately 10,000real property notices and an estimated 1,300 notices on personalproperty. Real property includes land and homes while personalproperty includes business equipment and other items.

Lincoln County Tax Assessor-Collector Nancy Jordan’s officemailed approximately 18,000 statements on real property and about1,400 on personal property.

Tax officials did not have a percentage on the number ofproperty owners who had paid their taxes so far.

Since her office starting collecting in December, Duckworth said$2.029 million in real property taxes had been paid and $936,891 inreal property taxes had been collected. The total includes taxrevenue that must be divided with the city school district.

A cumulative total of taxes paid at the county office wasunavailable.

For December only, County Administrator David Fields saidJordan’s office had sent $513,822 to the county in real andpersonal property taxes collected. That total does not include taxrevenue sent to the county school district.

Fields said Jordan’s office settles tax revenue with the countyon the 20th for the previous month. In February 2003, he said thecounty received $2.198 million in property taxes for January2003.

“We’re probably looking at over $2 million in January (2004),”Fields said.

Property owners who do not pay their taxes by Feb. 1 or Feb. 2will incur a 1 percent per month penalty until the land is sold fordelinquent taxes at the land sale in August. The sale is held thelast Monday of that month, Duckworth said.

Property owners have the option of making a partial payment.

To qualify, a person must by half of their tax bill by Feb. 1.Half of the remaining balance, plus interest, is due by May 1 andthe bill, plus interest, must be paid in full by July 1.

“They have to pay that first half by Feb. 1 or they can’t makepartial payments,” Duckworth said.

After the land sale, the original landowner will have two yearsto redeem their property by paying the taxes owed plus penaltiesand interest. The interest rate is 1.5 percent per month after theproperty is sold.

If the property is redeemed, the person who buys it at the landsale will be refunded the tax amount paid plus the 1.5 percentinterest. Duckworth said any money paid over the amount of taxesowed will not be returned.

County and city tax officials also reminded property owners ofthe important April 1 deadline for filing for Homestead Exemption.Filing entitled homeowners to receive a credit on their taxbills.

Jordan’s office handled filing for both the county and the city.Mississippi has one-time filing, meaning homeowners do not have tofile each year unless there is a change in the status of theproperty.

Tax officials said changes that would necessitate a new filinginclude the death of a spouse, becoming disabled for the first timeor turning age 65, a change in marital status, or if there a newdeed prepared on the property seeking Homestead Exemption.

Tax officials said those filing for Homestead Exemption for thefirst time should bring a copy of the deed, their Social Securitynumber, all car tag information and proof of age or disability.