Time is running out for the Arkansians to pay their property taxes.
Friday is the deadline for properties to pay their 2020 property taxes or face a 10 percent penalty, with interest accrued on homeowners overdue in property taxes.
In Baxter County, property taxes can be paid in person at the collector’s office, by mail with a check, or with a credit card over the phone or online.
The Baxter County Collector’s Office sent out more than 31,000 returns at the end of February and as of Friday it was still awaiting about 9,000 tax payments, said Teresa Smith, Baxter County collector.
âOctober is always busy for us. The closer you get to October 15, the more people you have who want to pay their taxes,â she said. “We want to encourage as many people as possible to pay early and hopefully avoid the long lines.”
Potential taxpayers who pay in person will be invited to line up in the collector’s office walkway, located at 8 E. 7th Street in downtown Mountain Home, or outside the office along the sidewalk. Assistant tax collectors will then call taxpayers to the office one at a time.
âPeople might think it’s a COVID-19 thing, but we actually started this several years ago,â Smith said. “It helps keep everyone from being on top of each other in the lobby.”
The collector’s office also offers a drop box for those who wish to avoid the queues. The drop box is located outside the office, to the left of the entrance.
âWe won’t put a lock on the drop box until October 16,â Smith said. “You can use it during office hours, or even come in at noon or after work in the evening and deposit your payment.”
Arkansas law requires all businesses and residents to assess their property annually for tax purposes. This includes items like cars, trucks, trailers, boats, airplanes, and commercial livestock. Businesses are also required to value their furniture, fixtures, inventory and other assets.
County appraisers assign appraised values ââto all appraised items or properties, with owners paying taxes on 20 percent of that item’s value. The tax rate – or mileage – specific to a given area is applied to that amount to determine what an owner must pay. County governments, school districts and other tax entities then distribute this revenue among themselves, with school districts receiving the lion’s share.
In Arkansas, personal and business property taxes are paid one year after they are assessed. The tax accounts due on October 15 relate to items assessed in 2020.
âThe statements are mailed to the last address we have on file for this taxpayer,â Smith said. âIf you’ve changed your address and haven’t received a statement, you’re still responsible for paying your taxes on time. Not knowing that something was due is no 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. The collector’s office is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Tax bills can be paid online by visiting baxtercounty.org and clicking on the âPay Taxes Onlineâ tab. Those who pay with a credit card will be charged a processing fee, Smith said.
âThis is something that we cannot get around,â Smith said. âFrom what I understand, every place that accepts cards pays some sort of processing fee, it’s just Walmart and other retailers eating spending. As a government agency, we don’t have the right to do this. If you want to use the convenience of card payment, then we have to pass the charge on.
Smith suggested residents wanting to avoid large credit card processing fees when paying online to use the “e-check” option, which charges a flat fee of $ 3.75 for payments. To use this option, users enter their bank account number and routing number, and the money is electronically withdrawn from the taxpayer’s bank account.
Homeowners behind on their property taxes receive a delinquency notice in the mail. If the land is overdue for two years, the county cedes the property to the state land commissioner, who then holds the property for another two years while trying to collect back taxes. At the end of this period, the land is then auctioned off to collect taxes owed and other costs.
Most real estate owners adjust their tax bills before their land goes up for auction, Smith said, but each year the state auctions land in Baxter County due to overdue taxes a owner.
Smith also wanted to remind veterans with 100% service-related disabilities that his office needed their letters from Veterans Affairs by Friday. These veterans are exempt from paying taxes on their personal property or residence, but must submit a VA disability letter to the county tax collector each year to maintain that status.
âThere is a deadline there,â Smith said. âIf a veteran brings his letter after the 15th, he will have to pay. “