Where does time go? The second tax season is over for us in the Pulaski County Collector’s office and we feel as though it went even more smoothly this year than last. The new procedures implemented last year streamlined the collection process that, coupled with the previous year’s experience, made for what we believe was a hectic, yet successful, 2008 tax collection season. The county collector’s web site was used more frequently for electronic payments, and opening the last Saturday of December was, once again, a tremendous help to taxpayers and this office in staying current on receipting mail and making daily deposits.
Judy Fisher joined us in November and continued working through January as our part time assistant; many know Judy from East Elementary where she worked as an administrative assistant for 28 years. She was a wonderful addition to our office staff and will continue to come in and assist when needed.
Delinquent real estate tax statements have been mailed. If you received a delinquent statement and you have an escrow account with your mortgage company, you need to call their customer service number and let them know the taxes are unpaid. One of the first things to check with their representative is the account number on your statement; it is crucial the lender has your correct tax account number. If the lender requested the wrong number, they probably paid the wrong account; in that case they will call us to verify the correct account number and pay the delinquent amount. 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 a 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. Keep in mind that 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 partial amount of the total taxes due on the property. It is usually noted in the settlement statements.
Although our returned mail decreased considerably this 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 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.
Recently we have had numerous calls to the office inquiring about foreclosures on properties listed in the newspaper; the collector’s office has nothing to do with sales due to foreclosure. 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.
These days we don’t hear a lot of good news, but we created some positive news in our office for 2008. At the beginning of the year, the office staff decided to begin a “Casual Friday” where we personally paid $5 for each Friday we dressed casually. By December we were pleased to donate $325 to Good Sam’s. We are continuing the same practice for 2009 and look forward to making someone’s Christmas a little merrier.
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.