How to manage property tax due dates
Ever have that feeling you’re forgetting something? It’s fine if you just left the garage light on overnight or didn’t transfer your clothes from the washer to the dryer. But what if it’s something more serious, like leaving your kid at home during a holiday trip to Paris or failing to make property tax payments on time?
It’s no surprise if keeping up with property tax feels overwhelming. Just when you’ve finished completing and filing one set of returns, you have to move on to preparing returns for other jurisdictions.
In the midst of these returns, you also have to remit payment for various tax bills and prepare for upcoming appeals. The sheer number of property tax due dates are enough to stretch any tax team to the limit.
While we can’t help with a John Hughes situation, we can help you mitigate the chances of falling behind on your property tax returns. For starters, here are some key dates to understand:
We’ll also look at a variety of strategies to help you manage multiple property tax deadlines.
Property tax return deadlines
Return deadlines are the date by which you must declare your personal property information. It’s one thing to know when you need to file, but you also should consider:
If you’re filing by mail, does the deadline apply to the day your return is postmarked or the day it’s received?
If the deadline falls on a weekend, does the due date roll over to the following Monday, or does it need to be in by Friday?
Does the jurisdiction allow deadline extensions? If you need more time, you’ll have to know the deadline for requesting an extension, and if granted, the amended return deadline.
If you miss a return deadline, you could be penalized with a fine, either a flat rate or a percentage of the assessed value of your property. If you don’t file on time, you may also lose your right to appeal the assessment.
Property tax appeal deadlines
But most jurisdictions set appeal deadlines based on the day you receive the assessment. Usually, you have 30 days to file your appeal. It’s vital to track these dates, as missing an appeal date is tantamount to accepting the assessment, and you’ll have to remit the full tax bill by the payment deadline.
If you do file an appeal, you’ll be assigned a hearing date, during which you’ll have to substantiate your claims. Some jurisdictions require you to present your case over multiple hearings. Hearing dates also need to be tracked carefully — missing one could harm your case and put your appeal in jeopardy.
Property tax payment deadlines
Payment deadlines are exactly what they sound like: the day you must remit your property tax payment by.
Some jurisdictions offer multiple property tax payment options, giving you the ability to pay in full or in installments. Many also offer discounts for early payments, which should be a part of your tax strategy.
Choose your best option for payment based on your cash flow or capitalization requirements. Depending on what you decide, this could mean multiple payment deadlines for jurisdictions across the state or across the country.
Some states and jurisdictions may send multiple bills throughout the course of a year for a single account. For example, Michigan sends a payment bill in summer and in winter; Massachusetts sends quarterly bills.
If you miss a payment deadline, you could be fined a penalty of either a flat rate or, you guessed it, a percentage of the original tax due.
Manage multiple property tax deadlines
There are as many ways to manage tax compliance deadlines as there are businesses paying tax bills. However, most processes tend to center around a few key tools, such as:
Many companies use programs like Excel or Google Sheets to track counties and due dates. While spreadsheets are great for organizing information, they can require a lot of manual upkeep. As returns, bills, and assessments roll in, dates may change and will need to be updated in the spreadsheet.
Your process can get more complicated if you’re also tracking installments or early payment discounts. You have to confirm deadlines remain accurate and update “best guess” information with actual due dates as you become aware of them.
Most online calendars are easily shareable and can be accessed from anywhere. They also make it easier to visualize when payments are due. However, they aren’t ideal for managing the information for each individual return, such as the payment amount and the value of your assessments. As such, calendars are best used to supplement other information management tools.
Project management software
There are a lot of online project management solutions, such as Trello, Monday, Favro, and Wrike. While these programs can help you assign tasks and track progress, the burden remains on you and your team to track down dates, plug them in, and continuously verify them to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
Property tax software
Solutions designed for managing and tracking property tax can help you create the most efficient compliance process. For instance, Avalara Property Tax has a calendar feature that displays all your upcoming deadlines at once, or filtered by returns, notices, appeals, or bills.
More importantly, tax software updates due dates automatically, so you don’t have to manually research, input, and update them. You can also, say, search for return deadlines for the next 30 days in all the jurisdictions that apply. Once you’ve submitted the required documentation or payment for a deadline, it disappears from your “queue.”
Another benefit of using software is that it’s more than just a data manager; it also helps you prepare your tax documentation. If a return deadline for your Texas property is upcoming, you can see it in the calendar, then pull together and complete the required documentation. The whole process of property tax filing becomes less cumbersome and can be completed more quickly.
Manage multiple property tax deadlines
Avalara Property Tax not only helps you manage property tax due dates all over the U.S., it uses automation to reduce burdens associated with property tax processes, like data entry and information verification.
You can also produce valuable reports to help with high-level tasks like forecasting and appeals.
If you think Avalara Property Tax might be a good fit for your business, contact us to schedule a demo today.
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