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Many taxpayers seem to be paying through the mail

Tax commissioner's office received 4,000-5,000 pieces of mail Monday

POSTED: October 3, 2011 11:30 p.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Roosevelt Norman waits for a receipt Monday from tax clerk Jo Ann Tatum Monday after paying the first installment of his Hall County property taxes at the Joint Administration Building in Gainesville. Hall County's taxpayers have the option of paying their county taxes in two installments.

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As he passed a check through the window at the Hall County Tax Commissioner's Office Monday, Gainesville resident Roosevelt Norman channeled a "Terminator"-era Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Ill be back."

Norman, like thousands of Hall County property owners, was paying only the first installment of his Hall County property tax payment.

And, as he said, Norman will be back in December to pay the rest of the bill.

For the first time this year, Hall County taxpayers are able to pay their property taxes in two equal installments.

The first installment was due Monday, meaning the county's 84,000 taxpayers should have shelled out some $60 million in property tax payments this week.

But, unlike the perpetual line for car tag renewals, the line of residents paying property tax bills Monday was fairly short at the tax office.

"A lot of people are paying by mail this time," said Tax Commissioner Keith Echols. "They don't want to wait in line. That's what it is."

Echols said between 4,000 and 5,000 pieces of mail arrived at the tax commissioner's office on Monday alone.

Officially, the first installment of tax payments was due Saturday. But because the due date fell on a weekend, Echols accepted payments postmarked or hand-delivered Monday.

"We'll get a bunch more (mail) tomorrow," Echols said.

Many payments received Monday were from mortgage companies that collect homeowners' tax payments throughout the year in an escrow account, Echols said.

About 40 percent of all county tax bills are paid this way, according to a news release from the county.

Though taxes are payable in installments this year, the plan does make part of the bill due earlier than in years' past.

Any county property owner who did not pay half of his property tax bill by Monday will be charged a penalty of 1 percent interest for each month that half of the bill goes unpaid.

But even with the earlier due date in mind, Norman, who said he owned multiple properties in Hall, said being able to break his bill down into smaller chunks made the payment more palatable.

"It's better," Norman said. "It helps out a lot to pay on it before it's due."

 



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