Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Concerned about online fees?

Over 22,379 visitors have used our online tax look-up website, www.decaturgatax.com since it was launched in late 2010.  December 2011 was a record month with 1,916 visitors alone (and Decatur only has about 8,000 properties)!

Although people increasingly turn to our website to look up tax information, we hear occasional concerns from the public about the online payment option.  The City of Decatur’s third party payment processor charges 2.2 percent plus 30¢ for online credit card payments through Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.

Through our online survey, we’ve even received a comment that “The County has never charged a fee for payment.”  Actually, DeKalb County’s website says “Payments may be accepted via VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, but a 2.5 percent transaction fee will be added to the payment.”

The perception that Decatur charges a fee that the county doesn’t charge may stem from the fact that DeKalb doesn’t charge a fee for online checks.

While that function is not directly supported by the city’s third party processor, you may be able to issue an online check to the City of Decatur through your personal bank at no charge to you.  Several major and local banks or credit unions offer account services such as online checking that would enable you to pay through the Internet without incurring a fee.  In other words, you could use our website to look up how much money you owe, then use your own online bank account to issue a payment without having to write out your own paper check.  Please contact your bank for terms and details.

Decatur taxpayers can also pay online through PayPal, which I noticed is currently offering a “Bill Me Later” feature that offers six months to pay on payments of $99 or more.  I’m not endorsing any one payment method over another, but that feature may be an option worth looking into for some Decatur residents or business taxpayers facing short-term cash flow problems.  Details on that program can be found here.

And of course we still take payments the old-fashioned way—from checks by mail, payments in person, or payments from your mortgage lender!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Revenue office changes in the New Year

Shaun Shabazz did a great job running the Revenue Division while I was on military leave over the past year.  She conducted successful tax billings during the second installment of 2010 and both installments of 2011.  Shaun also managed a highly effective delinquent collections process that resulted in no homes having to be at a tax sale while simultaneously achieving a very high real estate property tax collection rate!
Thank you, Shaun!
Holly Jackson served as a revenue clerk in the office for the year, and she did a great job as well.  Her smiling face and warm presence won accolades from customers and co-workers alike.  We are saddened to see her leave our little office, but are glad that she’s still here in City Hall working in the Development Department now.

Lastly, I’d like to thank the City of Decatur and my supervisor, assistant city manager Andrea Arnold, for their support for my deployment and facilitating my re-entry to civilian life here.  I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with the public throughout the New Year!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Grace period for 2011 taxes expires soon

The City of Decatur’s second installment property tax bills were due on Dec. 20, 2011.  No penalties or interest have been added to unpaid balances yet, but this grace period will end on January 5. 

If you haven’t already done so, please pay by Thursday to avoid additional fees.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you have paid, please check our tax look-up website at www.decaturgatax.com, or call us at 404-370-4100.  Due to mail, banking, posting, and data processing times, please allow 7 to 10 business days for payments tendered to show up on your tax records online. 

Our office will be open until 5:00 p.m. every day this week.  We accept payments through checks by mail; through credit cards or Paypal accounts online; and cash, check, or credit in person.

Postmarks will be honored on checks mailed to:

City of Decatur Lockbox
P.O. Box 945650
Atlanta, GA  30394-5650

If you intend to overnight a payment or visit us, our physical location is City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St., Decatur, GA  30030.  Please note that we do not have a secure after-hours drop box.