Programs helping citizens pay taxes

Published 8:15 am Thursday, February 23, 2023

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In today’s world, many people are looking for ways to save money, not pay it out.

We all dislike paying taxes, but how would the county function, and how would its citizens benefit if those taxes were not paid?

Citizens in Charlotte County have paid their share of real estate and personal property taxes at a significantly higher rate than some surrounding counties, which could be due to a host of reasons.

Things such as a lower tax levy and budget billing and taxpayer assistance, just to name a few.

“Our office has tried to find ways for citizens to pay these taxes without causing hardship,” said Charlotte County Treasurer Patricia Berkeley. “We offer the budget billing program and the taxpayers’ assistance program to help citizens.”

The programs seem to be helping, as at the end of Dec. 2022, the percentage collected for the prior fiscal tax year 2021/2022 was 98.57% for real estate and 97% for personal property.

According to Berkeley, budget billing allows citizens to deduct a fixed amount monthly from their bank account and that amount can be enough to pay the taxes in full or a portion. “This depends on your budget,” Berkeley said. “Citizens are required to be current on their taxes and pay any balance due by the due date.”

Suppose citizens are having a more challenging time paying. In that case, the Taxpayer Assistance Program allows individuals to enter into a signed agreement with the treasurer’s office to pay a certain amount each month towards their past due balance. Berkeley said penalty and interest would be assessed, but it would stop collections from happening, which cost would additional fees.

According to Berkeley, a 2% penalty is assessed the day after the due date during the month in which the taxes are due, and the 8% is added the first of the following month and interest begins to accrue. (10% annum)

One of the main benefits of taxes is that they help to fund essential public services. These taxes go directly to the local government, which uses the funds to pay for things like public schools, law enforcement, and fire and EMS services.

“The local revenue, along with state and federal funds, are needed to provide various services,” Berkeley said. “When you begin to experience a reduction in taxes collected, this may result in an increase in the tax levy. In addition, the county could look to reduce expenditures, and this may cause disruption in services. All cost associated with collecting taxes is passed on to the taxpayer. This can be costly. The longer you have unpaid taxes, the more you will pay in late, collection, and/or legal fees, so it’s to the citizen’s benefit to pay in a timely manner.”