Tax time: Tuesday is the last day to pay property taxes without penalty

 

The deadline to pay last year's property taxes is Tuesday. After that, fees and penalties start to accrue.

The county tax office still has about a quarter of its levy to collect, said Smith County Tax Collector-Assessor Gary Barber.

As of late last week, the office had collected 73 percent of the taxes owed, up 4.4 percent from last year, collecting $21 million more than this time-period in 2016.

Tax bills can be paid in person, online or through the mail. The tax office accepts all major credit cards, checks and money orders.

Barber said paying by e-check is the fastest and easiest option.

"There is no charge, no postage, no drive and no line - and you can print your receipt off, so you have the security of knowing it's paid," Barber said, adding the county has taken in about a $1 million more this year in e-payments.

Tuesday still counts as current, Barber said, but if residents mail it on Tuesday, they need to have it hand-stamped at the post office. If it just gets dropped into the mailbox, it might not get stamped that day, and a penalty will result, Barber said.

Penalties for unpaid tax bills begin Wednesday at 7 percent. That increases by 2 percent each month until July, when attorney fees are added. Those fees are 15 percent of the tax bill. After that, another 1 percent is added each month until payment is made.

As of July 1, the fees account for a 33 percent increase in the bill.

The tax office will take partial payments. Fees and penalties are added only to the unpaid portions of the bill, Barber said. Barber said he has no local power to waive any fees. They are statutorily set by state tax codes.

Residents can check the status of their property tax bill online at www.smith-county.com. A direct link can be found at the bottom of the homepage in the "additional links and searches" section. The property tax link can be found under payments and fees in the second column in the section.

Barber said there is an out-of-state mortgage company has not paid its tax bill. Barber didn't name the company, but said it affects about 200 accounts.

Residents can check online if their bill has been paid.

"We tried to mail statements to everyone (affected), but residents need to check," he said. "If they paid off their mortgage this year and have not paid a bill, they need to call us."

PAYMENT METHODS

Payments can be made in person, online or through the mail.

If paying through the mail, the envelope must be postmarked by Tuesday and mailed to the Smith County Tax Office, P.O. Box 2011, Tyler, TX, 75710. No cash will be accepted through the mail. The office honors the Jan. 31 postmark.

"There is an issue when people wait to the last day to mail it," Barber has said. "The post office may or may not postmark them that day. I urge residents to have the post office put a hand stamp on it because it has to be postmarked Jan. 31."

Payments can be made in person at the Cotton Belt Building, 1517 W. Front St. in Tyler or at the Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace and tax office, 2616 S. Main St. in Lindale. Accepted payments include cash, check, money orders as well as credit and debit cards. 

The tax office accepts Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover cards, but a 2.5 percent convenience fee is applied to credit card payments. The fee also is applied to online payments. Debit cards have a smaller flat fee of $3.95 and this fee also is applied if paying online. There is no fee for using an electronic check.

The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and is open through the lunch hour.

Twitter: @TMTFaith

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Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.