Property tax facts for homeowners

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By Brian Stivers

It is property tax time once again and I would like to take this opportunity to help the taxpayers better understand how the property tax system works.
Property taxes follow a set calendar and procedures which we all, as taxpayers, should be aware.
First, we should know who is responsible for what within the process. The value of the property is determined by the Property Valuation Administrator (PVA) based on a structured assessment process. Tax rates are determined by the different taxing authorities – school board, library, fire, state, etc. Taxpayers are responsible to provide a correct address to which the bill should be mailed to the PVA office and is responsible to mail the tax bill to their mortgage company if their tax payment is escrowed. The sheriff and city are responsible for printing and mailing the bills as well as collecting the appropriate payments.
The tax calendar starts in January of each year when the value of property is determined. KRS 132.690 requires the PVA to reassess one-fourth of the property in the county each year in order to bring that area to market value. If the value of your property is increased, you will get a notice to that effect in early May detailing the change and how to appeal the value that was determined. This notice willl also give you the dates that you will have to come in and discuss the value. We cannot make changes after this deadline, so it is very important to come in by the date listed in the notice. In mid-June the assessments are sent to the revenue department for certification. After the tax roll is certified, the taxing authorities must then set their rate so they can be combined and used to calculate and print the tax bill.
The tax bills must be printed in time to arrive in the taxpayer’s mail by Oct. 1 to allow the taxpayer the month of October to pay the bill with a 2 percent discount. The amount to be paid is the face amount from Nov. 2 through Dec. 31. Penalties start accruing on Jan. 1 with a 5 percent penalty until Feb. 1 and a 21 percent penalty thereafter for any unpaid tax bills. The tax bills are turned over to the county clerk in April for collection.
Finally, in August the bills are offered for sale to be purchased by any outside companies and a lien is placed upon the property. We have witnessed a $250 tax bill end up being more than $1,000 with all of the collecion fees added at this time, so it’s crucial that the bills are taken care of before this happens.
There are three simple things that we, as taxpayers, can do to protect ourselves from surprises. First, make sure that the PVA has the correct address to which the bill is to be mailed.  Second, if we own property we are required to pay taxes on it. If we have not received a tax bill by Oct. 15, we should call the sheriff’s office to get a copy of the bill so we can pay with the 2 percent discount.
Third, if we purchased property in the current tax year and have not received a tax bill we should check with the sheriff’s office to receive a copy of  the bill. Remember the lien is placed on the property and not on the person, so it is very important to make sure that all taxes are paid.
By understanding and following these guidelines, we can prevent ourselves costly surprises. Please feel free to call my office to discuss any questions you might have. We are here to serve you and it is my pleasure to be your PVA.

Brian Stivers is the property valuation administrator for Anderson County.