More than 183,000 property tax statements should be arriving in Smith County residents' mailboxes and email inboxes.
Property tax bills are due upon receipt. The deadline for paying property taxes and avoiding penalties and interest is Jan. 31.
Tax Assessor/Collector Gary Barber said bills reflect the additional $10,000 on homestead exemptions. The increased homestead exemption was approved by Texas' voters Tuesday via constitutional amendment.
Barber said the tax office expected the proposition to pass and adjusted tax bills accordingly before statements were mailed.
The tax office accepts cash, check, money order, credit card, debit card and electronic check payment. Partial payments on current and delinquent taxes are also accepted.
Electronic checks are the easiest way for residents to pay their tax bills free of charge and without driving across town or standing in lines, Barber said. Customers can print receipts so they are sure the balance is paid, he said.
"There are still people who want to hand deliver their payments, and I understand that but electronic checks are a great option," he said. "It saves a trip, it's convenient and free and you can print a receipt so you know you've paid."
Barber said more and more residents are using electronic checks to pay tax bills, and he hopes the trend continues. Taxpayers paid more than $13 million via 5,287 e-check transactions. That's up from more than 4,000 transactions and $10 million last year.
Credit card payments include a convenience fee of 2.5 percent of the balance. The convenience fee would cost $125 on a $5,000 tax bill. The convenience fee for using debit cards is $3.95.
The tax office added additional teller windows and access to "self-serve" payment kiosks, with touch-screens and multiple payment options for walk-in customers. Customers can access tax information and pay on them. Staff will be on hand to assist taxpayers, he said.
Residents 65 and older, or disabled residents, qualify for quarterly payments. No penalties or interest are assessed if payments are received on time for homesteads.
Penalties begin at 7 percent Feb. 1 and increase 2 percent per month until it reaches 18 percent by July 1 in addition to a 15 percent collection fee.
Penalties continue to escalate in 1 percent increments after that.
The total tax levy for 22 Smith County taxing entities is more than $287.6 million, Barber said compared to $280 million last year.
The main tax office is in the Cotton Belt Building, 1517 W. Front St. in Tyler. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Taxpayers also can make payments at the office in Lindale, 2616 S. Main St. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Taxpayers can access their tax information at smith-county.com.