Friday, September 2, 2016
Decatur's tax office will be closed on Monday, September 5. If you need immediate information over the holiday weekend, please go to decaturgatax.com. Since the post office and banks will also be closed, please expect any payments that you have recently sent in to take some additional time to clear and be posted to your account. We will reopen on September 6 at 8 a.m.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
The Decatur Revenue Division, which is a separate tax office from DeKalb’s, has received a couple of phone calls asking whether DeKalb or Decatur have changed to single-installment billing for property taxes. The answer is no. These questions resulted from a television news report about a request from DeKalb County to mortgage companies to make one payment instead of two. The report profiled a taxpayer whose mortgage payment went up by an unspecified amount as a result of her lender making one lump payment to DeKalb instead of two.
DeKalb County tax commissioner Irvin Johnson has since clarified in a press release that no mortgage company is required to pay the total amount up front. DeKalb has not eliminated the option to pay in two installments, either for lenders or for property owners who don’t pay their taxes out of escrow.
While we’re on the subject, it may be worth pointing out a few differences between DeKalb County and Decatur’s installment billing. Decatur bills property taxes in two separate installments per year. My office sends taxpayers two separate bills each year, with a different amount on each of the two bills, which are due on two separate dates. Our installments are about six months apart. We do not accept a payment for the full year during the first installment because we do not know how much the second installment bill will be until later in the year. If a mortgage company or individual attempts to double their first installment payment as a pre-payment for the full year, we refund the overage. It is our policy not to accept funds that are not yet known to be owed to Decatur.
Although the term “installments” is used for DeKalb’s property taxes, I don’t really consider the county's system to be a two-installment billing like Decatur’s. DeKalb basically issues one bill with two payment stubs allowing a taxpayer to spread out his or her payment by six weeks without accruing interest charges. But it’s still basically one bill.
Both systems have their pluses and minuses, and this example helps illustrate how changes in installment policies can potentially affect mortgage payments.