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March Collector’s Report
March Collector’s Report

County Collector Terri Mitchell
I know everyone is as happy as we are to think about the arrival of spring and warmer weather. Once December is over, we begin to look forward to warmer weather and longer days; with this year’s snow, ice and frigid temperatures, March is a welcomed sight. The 2009 tax collection season was the smoothest yet with the collection percentage again reaching an excellent rate of 92 percent. The Pulaski County Collector’s Office web site was used more frequently for electronic payments, and we opened the last Saturday of December again, which was a tremendous help to taxpayers and this office in staying current on receipting mail and making daily deposits.

The new and innovative installment plan for the 2010 real estate tax amount is in place, and 113 taxpayers with approximately 150 accounts are taking advantage of this opportunity to pay their taxes in equal increments throughout the year. With the program, installments will be automatically withdrawn every month with the final payment in November 2010. I would encourage you to think about this program. You must be current on real estate taxes, have either a checking or savings account and complete an application in order to participate. We were pleased to offer this new program to the Pulaski County taxpayers and plan to continue the program next year.

Delinquent real estate tax statements have been mailed. If you received a delinquent statement but have an escrow account with your mortgage company, you need to call their customer service number on the mortgage statement and let them know the taxes are unpaid. One of the first things to check is the account number on your statement; it is crucial that the lender has your correct tax account number. If the lender requested the wrong account number, they probably paid the wrong account. Another indicator that a wrong account was paid is if the base amount due on your tax statement does not match the amount taken from your escrow account when taxes were paid. In addition, receiving a check from your lender as a result of a surplus in your escrow account is another sign the wrong account number was requested for payment. Financing or refinancing late in the calendar year can increase the possibility for an incorrect payment/nonpayment as well. Due to privacy issues, the taxpayer must initiate contact with the lender in order for a resolution to start.

A different scenario leading to a delinquent tax amount occurs when property is bought or sold during the tax year. According to Missouri state statutes, taxes follow the property; this makes the purchaser ultimately responsible for the taxes due on the property. The buyer often assumes the seller paid the taxes in full at the time of the sale, when they only paid for the portion of time they owned the property during the year. Actually, the official tax statements are not generated until the last part of the year, and taxes cannot be accepted until Nov. 1 of the tax year. At the end of the tax year, this leaves the full amount due for the buyer, with the seller’s part being paid at the closing. If you received a delinquent statement and this happened during the year, check your closing documents to see if the seller paid a prorated amount of the total taxes due on the property. It is usually noted in the settlement statements.

Although our returned mail decreased considerably each year, we still have some returned mail with no known address. Address changes/corrections are extremely important to us, and we offer different notification options when changes need to be made. There is a link to a form on our web site, www.pulaskicollector.com which can be filled out and sent to us electronically. You may also call the office at (573) 774-4711 or you may note a change when you mail a payment. We do not have any way of knowing this information unless the taxpayer provides it. An incorrect address on your statement often creates unwanted penalties that cannot be waived.

This time of year brings numerous calls to the office inquiring about property foreclosures. The collector’s office has nothing to do with foreclosure sales. This office conducts a land tax sale each year on the fourth Monday of August. It is held in accordance with the Missouri state statutes on property with three years of delinquent taxes. We list the properties in the newspaper and the web site about six weeks prior to the sale (in mid July). This list changes daily until the day of the sale as owners come in to pay the taxes, which removes it from the sale.

Our office has some good news to share. Deputy Clerk Haley Jones and her husband Matt are expecting their first child in October. We congratulate them and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of baby Jones.

Beautiful spring days will be a welcome sight for all Pulaski County residents, especially after February’s last hurrah. We are looking forward to warmer weather and longer days. If you are out and about, feel free to stop by the office for a visit.

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