Midnight next Tuesday will bring more than the refrain of “Auld Lang Syne” as Newton County personal and property taxes are due at that time.
Citizens mailing in their taxes must be sure the postmark on the envelope will read no later than Dec. 31. As long as the postmark is dated before or on Dec. 31, mailed-in tax payments will be considered as being on time, even if they don't arrive until several days later, according to Newton County Collector Jim Otey.
Those who want to pay in person by cash or check at the county collector's office in the Newton County Courthouse on the Neosho Square have until 5 p.m. Tuesday. Although that day is New Year's Eve, the collector's office plans to keep normal business hours. Residents have the option as well of paying by credit card online at www.newtoncountycollector.com.
They will need their tax identification number that appears on the front of their bill. A convenience fee will be tacked onto the total for those paying by credit card, which are also accepted in person at the collector's office counter.
And new this year, residents who can’t or don’t wish to go online can opt to avoid a trip to the post office and make payments via telephone. Residents wanting to do this can find a toll-free phone number, 1-800-552-0405, in a gray box beneath the property description and total valuation information on their tax bill. The will be asked to use County Number 14 when prompted, and to enter an eight-digit personal identification number when prompted. This number can be found in the same gray box as the toll free phone number and county number.
Taxes paid after the Dec. 31 deadline will accrue a one-time seven percent penalty charge, plus a two percent interest fee, which will repeat itself every month taxes go unpaid, up to 25 percent the first year.
But many aren’t waiting until the very last minute to pay their taxes. Otey said payments have been steady, with business at his office starting to pick up since mid-December.
“Today [Thursday] we had our first set of lines,” he said. “They didn’t stretch out down the hall as they have in years past, but we did have one or two standing in line as we were helping other customers.”
Otey cautioned taxpayers not to wait until Tuesday to mail their payments, as the mail first travels to Springfield to be sorted and postmarked before making its way back to Neosho. He said the postal service could elect to close the office early on Tuesday as that day is New Year’s Eve.
“People will tell my office ‘But I mailed it on the 31st,’ and I have no reason not to believe them,” Otey said. “I’ve asked about it at the post office in the past if it was possible for someone to drop off mail on the 31st, but not get that day’s postmark, and they said it was.”
He advised people to either mail early, pay their taxes by cash or check in the office, or go online or use the telephone service. An extra fee of three percent of the tax bill will apply for credit card payments. Otey said these funds do not go to the county, but rather, the credit card companies.