Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Decatur's fees appear on 1st and 2nd installment tax bills

One of the questions in our new FAQs deserves elaboration since it causes confusion every year and it's hard to explain without visuals:

If Decatur only bills for sanitation and stormwater during the 1st installment tax billing, why are these fees showing up on my 2nd installment bill? Aren’t you double-charging me? The short answer is no, because the 2nd installment bill is always a re-statement of the entire bill for the year, including all taxes, fees, and payments made over the course of the year.

As an illustration, let's assume that your base property tax charges are $1,000 for the 1st installment, plus $312 in fees (residential sanitation and stormwater), and another $1,000 in taxes for the 2nd installment, ie $1,000 + $312 + $1,000 = $2,312 in total city taxes and fees for the year.  Here's how that would appear on your bills:

The line-by-line amounts during the second installment all appear to be "doubled," at first glance, but those are actually the full year's charges (1st + 2nd installments), which are partly cancelled out by what was already paid during the 1st installment.  The sanitation and stormwater charges are re-printed on your 2nd installment bill so that you know what the total year’s charges and payments have been.

Another way of looking at it would be that if the fees were being charged twice a year, the total bill would have been $2,624 ($1000 + $312 + $1000 + 312) rather than $2,312.

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