Property Tax Waiver Process in Place as More Pay Late

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Humboldt County Courthouse - FILE
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  • Humboldt County Courthouse
The county of Humboldt saw about a 4 percent drop in property taxes paid by the April 10 deadline, which came amid the COVID-19 outbreak that has shuttered businesses and left thousands in the region out of work.

According to Treasurer-Tax Collector John Bartholomew, 89 percent of the payments came in on time compared to 93 percent for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, leaving a shortfall of $8.7 million in payments. The previous year saw a $5.2 million shortfall in timely collections on the county’s approximately 67,400 property parcels.

The payments were actually due in February but late fines do not go into effect until after the two-month grace period ends. The county has set up a process to request a waiver of the fees and interest penalties, which must be made by June 10, accompanied by the late payment and an affidavit listing the reason.

Bartholomew emphasized the importance of sending in the property tax due along with the waiver request, noting in a recent email to the Journal that his office had received 15 requests but only two came with a payment.

Those, he wrote, “are no good to us and just create additional staff time costs because of the follow-up we need to do.”

Before April 10, Bartholomew, like many of his colleagues across the state, stressed that the installment deadlines are set in state law and not continuing the tax collections could have a “catastrophic impact on local funding” of essential services.

“Humboldt County citizens rely on services provided by teachers, fire fighters, public health and safety officers, and other county services,” he said in a press release at the time. “Property tax revenues are vital to keeping their agencies, departments, and schools funded and services uninterrupted.”

Those requesting a waiver are required to submit documentation, such as a layoff notice from an employer, a child’s school registration papers or a doctor’s note, depending on which reasons are selected on the affidavit, which can be found here.

“There is also an ‘additional explanation’ section on the affidavit … on which they could provide more information and we will follow-up with them as necessary,” Bartholomew said.

Once a waiver is received, he said each will be processed separately and “senior staff will confirm that each request is in order and will follow up as needed with the taxpayer.”

“We will investigate until we are satisfied or not in granting the waiver,” Bartholomew said.

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