Gainous pushes for taxpayer relief

Grady Countians who may be suffering from the ongoing economic downturn and unable to pay their property taxes later this year are going to get some much needed assistance.
Tax Commissioner Phyllis Gainous appeared before the Grady County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night seeking the board’s approval for her office to collect partial tax payments to ease the burden for struggling taxpayers.
Gainous proposed a partial payment plan last year, which the board approved, and the tax commissioner says approximately 100 taxpayers took advantage of the offer to extend their tax payments past the due date.
“We had about 100 last year, but we’ve been getting a lot of calls this year asking if we can accept partial payments again this year,” the tax commissioner told county commissioners Tuesday night.
Tax Commissioner Gainous fears that with the loss of approximately $200 in the form of the homestead tax relief credit and the sour economy even more taxpayers may need to make partial payments this year over last year.
“My only concern is if we continue to offer it folks will come to expect it. I think we should convey the fact that this program may not continue. I have no problem offering it again this year with the economy like it is and with the tax bills coming out late anyway,” Chairman Bobby Burns said.
Commissioner Elwyn Childs suggested the county offer the taxpayer relief and made a motion to allow the tax commissioner to accept partial payments and the board voted unanimously to give Mrs. Gainous that authority.
The board of commissioners and the Grady County Board of Education have scheduled called meeting for next Thursday, Oct. 29 at which time both boards will vote to set the final tax millage rate. These two called meetings were postponed after Tax Assessor Susan Bennett submitted a flawed tax digest which resulted in a delay in submitting the tax digest to the Georgia Department of Revenue for its approval.
Because of these problems tax bills are going out late, but will be due on December 29 if all goes as planned, according to County Administrator Rusty Moye.
Under the tax commissioner’s partial payment plan taxpayers who are interested in spreading out the payment of taxes must execute a contract with the tax commissioner agreeing to a payment plan. Interest and penalties are not waived and are based on the base tax amount due.
“The county is not losing out on any interest and penalties once the due date passes. You are just allowing the taxpayer to make partial payments until the full amount owed is paid off,” Mrs. Gainous explained to the county commissioners.

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