What to do about missing property tax bills

If you’ve ever been in line at the grocery store and witnessed the clerk having difficulty ringing up an item, you’ve undoubtedly heard this cringeworthy joke: “If it’s not ringing up, it must be free!” Unfortunately, that’s not how it works, and the same can be said about missing property tax bills.

Property taxes are unavoidable for both consumers and businesses. This is true even if, due to circumstances beyond your control, you don’t receive a formal tax bill in the mail.

Businesses that fail to pay taxes on time could face some pretty dire consequences, including:

  • Monetary penalties
    The quickest and most common consequence is a penalty levied by the tax collector for late payment. For example, Beaufort County in South Carolina applies 3%, 10%, and 15% penalties to tax payments made after January 15, February 1, and March 16, respectively. After March 16, the treasurer or delinquent tax collector also applies execution costs to the bill.
  • Reputational harm
    Some tax collectors take an extra step to encourage taxpayers to address their delinquent bills: publishing lists of businesses that have yet to pay what they owe. For companies that value their reputation, this can be a damaging act that could limit their ability to establish relationships with suppliers.
  • Property loss
    Some tax collectors may go so far as to place a lien on a company’s property in an effort to secure past due payments. While it’s not a common practice, this act not only causes reputational harm because the lien is public, but potentially puts the collector in the position of seizing the property to cover the company’s debt.

Given the above consequences, it’s important to pay your tax bills on time. But when you receive multiple tax bills for each account, it’s not uncommon for one to get lost en route to your office, leaving you in the dark about the who, what, and when aspects of your payment.

What you can do to resolve missing tax bills

Always be aware of estimated tax bill arrival dates for all your locations. That way you know when to expect bills and can quickly take action if one (or more) isn’t received. If you’re not already using property tax software to track bills and key dates, you’re missing out on one of the most efficient ways to manage deadlines. 

If you haven’t received a tax bill, you can go online to the tax collector’s website and search for a copy of the bill using your account number and other identifying details. In most cases, you can either print the digital copy of the tax bill or at least gather the details needed to remit payment.

However, not all counties have online portals for finding your tax bills. In these cases, you may have to call the collector and alert them of the missing bill. They may be able to send you a new one via mail, fax, or email; some may give certain details over the phone.

If all else fails, you may be forced to just send in an estimated payment to avoid penalties. If you take this route, overestimate the payment because the collector can refund any amount over what’s due.

Never worry about missing tax bills again with Avalara Property Tax

Avalara Property Tax uses a tax calendar to help manage the property tax cycle, so your team can easily track deadlines for returns, appeals, and tax bills. It automatically populates your tax calendar with the relevant jurisdictions’ due dates for returns, appeal filings, and tax bills.

You can also access detailed information for over 20,000 assessing and collecting jurisdictions, which is validated annually, so you can avoid looking up due dates, mailing addresses, depreciation tables, and the like.

If you’d like to learn more about Avalara Property Tax or our other property tax software, schedule a call today.

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