With the calendar flipping over to October, property owners should keep in mind that their property taxes are due later this month.
Tuesday, Oct. 15, is the deadline for property owners to pay their 2018 property taxes or face a 10 percent penalty, with interest compiling on delinquent real estate taxes.
The Baxter County Tax Collector’s Office mailed out more than 30,000 tax statements in late February. As of Monday afternoon, the county was still awaiting tax payments from slightly less than half of the county’s property owners, Collector Teresa Smith said.
“We’re always busy in October,” she said. “The closer it gets to Oct. 15 the more people you have walk in wanting to pay their taxes. This is going to be a really busy couple of weeks for us.”
Arkansas law requires all businesses and residents to assess their property each year for taxation purposes. That includes items like cars, trucks, trailers, boats, airplanes and commercial livestock like cows, horses and pigs. Businesses are also required to assess their furniture, fixtures, inventory and other assets.
County assessors assign estimated values to all items or property assessed, with owners paying taxes on 20 percent of that item’s value. The taxing — or millage — rate specific to a given area is applied to that amount to determine what a property owner must pay. County governments, school districts and other taxing entities then divvy up that revenue, with school district’s receiving the lion’s share.
In Arkansas, taxes on personal and business properties are paid a year after it is assessed. The tax bills due on Oct. 15 are for items assessed in 2018.
“Statements are mailed out to the last address we have on file for that taxpayer,” Smith said. “If you have changed addresses and didn’t receive a statement, you are still responsible for paying (your taxes) on time. Not knowing something was due is not an excuse.”
Anyone unsure of their tax bill should contact the Collector’s Office by phone at (870) 425-8300 or visit the office in person at 8 E. 7th Street in downtown Mountain Home on the courthouse square.
Property tax payments can be made in person at the Collector’s Office, over the telephone with a credit card or by check through the mail. Taxpayers may also go online to baxtercounty.org to pay online.
“We’re seeing more and more people choose to pay online,” Smith said. “You can pay online at any time, and there’s no waiting in line. It gives you a chance to pay without visiting the office.”
Paying with a credit card will incur a processing fee of 2.8 percent of the amount paid with a $2 minimum charge, Smith said.
“That’s something we can’t get around,” Smith said. “As I understand it, every place that accepts cards pays some processing fee, it’s just that Walmart and other retailers eat the fee and make up the difference in the price of goods. As a governmental body, we’re not allowed to absorb that fee. If you want to use the convenience of paying by card, then we have to pass any fees along as well.”
Smith suggested residents wishing to avoid a large processing fee when paying online use the “e-check” option, which charges a flat $2.75 for payments. To use this option, users enter their bank account number and its routing number, and the money is electronically withdrawn from the taxpayer’s bank account.
The Collector’s Office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The office also has a drop box, located in front of the building, where taxpayers may leave payments at any time between now and Oct. 15.
“The box is there if you want to come by after hours, or if you want to run by on lunch and just drop your payment off,” Smith said. “The only thing we ask is that people not put cash into the drop box, only checks.”
Smith also wanted to remind veterans with a 100 percent service-connected disability that her office needs their Veterans Affairs letters by Tuesday, Oct 15. Those veterans are exempted from paying taxes on their personal property or their residence, but must submit a VA disability letter to the county collector every year to maintain that status.
“There is a deadline there,” Smith said. “If a veteran brings in their letter on the 16th, they will have to pay.”
Real estate owners behind on their taxes are mailed a delinquency notice. If the land is delinquent for two years, the county turns the property over to the Commissioner of State Lands, who holds the property for another two years. At the end of that period, the land is auctioned off to recoup the back taxes and other fees.
Most owners square their tax bills with the county before their land goes to auction, Smith said, but each year the state does auction off Baxter County land due to an owner’s delinquent taxes.
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