Online Payment Of Real Estate Taxes Coming

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If all goes as planned, Athens County property owners will be able to pay their real estate tax bills online beginning next month.

“We are getting very, very close to going online with our webpage,” County Treasurer Bill Bias said.

Taxpayers should be getting their second-half tax bills the first week of July, and Bias said the goal is to have the website up and running by then.

“It appears we will be able to,” Bias said. “We are working diligently to ensure that happens.”

Sturgis Web Services was hired to develop the website.

Last week, the county commissioners approved an agreement with Paypal, which will be one of the options for making payment on the website.

Bias said property owners also will be able to pay through canceled check — by putting in a check number and bank information so the payment can be deducted from an account — or by credit card.

Fees will be attached to all those methods, with the canceled-check method the cheapest — about 50 cents, Bias said, noting that the county is prohibited by law from paying those fees.

Bias said the fees will be explained on the website.

“The website will guide you through — how much this is going to cost, and you can agree or not agree (to go forward with that payment method),” Bias explained.

Bias said he believes there is a demand for online payment, adding that he has been surprised by the number of phone calls from people wanting to pay online.

Some people just prefer that method, Bias said, but there also might be instances when taxpayers don’t have funds available at the due date, so payment by credit card or through Paypal can be a way of avoiding a 10 percent penalty.

Allen County has had online payment of real estate tax bills for several years.

Allen County Treasurer Rachael Gilroy estimated that a quarter of all taxpayers are using it.

“People are using it much more frequently as time goes on,” she said. “Each collection we see an increase in usage.”

Gilroy said she became treasurer in February 2013, and prior to that the county had online payment for two or three years.

Bias said he sees online payment as a step toward being able to send out tax bills electronically — something that won’t be in place for upcoming second-half tax bills.

Being able to send out tax bills electronically would save the county money, Bias said, estimating that his office spends about $25,000 a year just on postage to send out the bills. That figure doesn’t include the cost of preparing the paper tax bills.

However, Bias said he doubts the county would totally abandone mailing tax bills.

“There will always be people who want to get it in the mail,” he said.