The Humboldt County Treasurer-Tax Collector Office may be closed but property taxes are still due.
The second installment of Humboldt County property taxes is still due by April 10 regardless of the COVID-19 shutdown, although officials say late penalties may be waived.
The payments were actually owed in February but the stiff fees and interest accrued for missing the deadline don’t begin accumulating until after the two-month grace period ends.
Humboldt’s Treasurer-Tax Collector John Bartholomew — like many of his colleagues across the state — is reminding property owners about the importance of paying on time.
“At times like these we all need to help each other and therefore we urge everyone who is in a position to pay property taxes on time to do so, as required by state law,” he said in a press release. “Humboldt County citizens rely on services provided by teachers, fire fighters, public health and safety officers, and other county services. Property tax revenues are vital to keeping their agencies, departments, and schools funded and services uninterrupted.”
The release also notes that the installment deadlines are set in state law and not continuing the tax collections could have a “catastrophic impact on local funding” of the essential services.
At least two California counties — Santa Clara and Los Angeles — are going to allow partial payments, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.
Tax law outlines two main situations in which penalties can be waived, according to a release from the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors.
The first is if the tax collector’s office is not open April 10 due to the deadline falling “on Saturday, Sunday or a legal holiday … or if the board of supervisors, by adoption of an ordinance or resolution, closes the county’s offices for business prior to the time of delinquency.”
In that case, the provision states the penalty clock starts once the office reopens.
While the scenario described above doesn’t fit with the Humboldt County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector Office’s current closure, which was spurred by the declaration of a local health emergency and a shelter in place order from the county health officer, a second one in tax law does provide an applicable waiver mechanism.
That is, when a late payment “is due to reasonable cause and circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control, and occurred notwithstanding the exercise of ordinary care in the absence of willful neglect.”
Information on how to apply for a late payment waiver will be available after April 10 and posted at www.humboldtgov.org/2088/Property-Tax-Information.
Meanwhile, Humboldt County payments can be mailed, made online at here
or over the phone at (855) 335-3132, although both options are through a third party that charges for the service.
“As always, we will work with taxpayers who are facing hardships as a result of this crisis while continuing to protect the stability of our county finances and services,” Bartholomew said.