County will accept partial tax payments

Grady countians concerned if you can pay their taxes by Dec. 20, listen up!
The Board of Commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved a request from Tax Commissioner Phyllis Gainous to allow her office to accept partial tax payments.
“With Timken and Monrovia laying off folks and the economy like it is, there are some people struggling and can’t afford to pay their taxes right now,” Mrs. Gainous told the board Tuesday.
She said she has been approached by taxpayers inquiring about partial payments, so she decided to look into the prospect.
County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley agreed with Mrs. Gainous that it is within the commission’s jurisdiction to accept partial payments on taxes due. However, the county does not have the right to waive interest and penalties due the state.
Commissioner Al Ball expressed his view that the policy change may not actually help distressed taxpayers, but put them in deeper trouble.
“If they don’t have the money now, it is not likely they will have it in March. I do not mean to sound negative but that is the way I feel,” Ball said.
He went on to ask if there is a way the tax commissioner could offer some assistance in budgeting.
Mrs. Gainous said that her staff on a regular basis suggests that citizens hold back money each month for their taxes. “Lots of times we encourage them to go and buy a money order each month and hold on to it so that when their taxes come due, they will have the money,” she said.
Commissioner Charles Norton agreed with Ball that it could cause problems, but that this is temporary assistance and the commission would have to reexamine the program next year.
“I’m for trying it this once and see what happens,” Norton said.
Under Mrs. Gainous’ proposal, any taxes not paid by Dec. 20 would have interest and penalties tacked on to the total amount of the original amount due. She went on to offer the example of a taxpayer whose bill is $500 and who pays $100 by Dec. 20. The interest and penalties after the Dec. 20 due date would be applied to the total $500 and not the $400 balance.
Commissioner Norton also asked if the tax office staff is sufficient to account for the partial payments. The tax commissioner says that her computer system will account for the payments and no additional staff is necessary or requested.
Taxpayers may pay any portion of their taxes whenever they can, but March 20, 2009, will be the cutoff. All bills remaining unpaid after that date will go to a tax sale, according to Mrs. Gainous’ plan, which was adopted by the commission this week.
Taxpayers wishing to take advantage of the partial payment option will be required to sign an agreement that stipulates that interest and penalties will not be waived and a payment schedule can run only as long as March 20.

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