Partial payment sign-up deadline Friday, 5 p.m.

Posted 2/8/18

Bradley County taxpayers still straddling the fence on whether to sign up for the partial payment program for 2018 property taxes have little time left to think about it.Enrollment deadline is Friday …

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Partial payment sign-up deadline Friday, 5 p.m.

Posted

Bradley County taxpayers still straddling the fence on whether to sign up for the partial payment program for 2018 property taxes have little time left to think about it.

Enrollment deadline is Friday at 5 p.m.

That means the time for doin’ is now, assuming it’s going to get done this year in order to make installment payments.

Unlike its 2010 inception, the partial payment program is no longer a stranger to area residents. It has become one of the most publicized, and talked about, government services on the county side of the jurisdictional aisle.

Its popularity is simple: It is an initiative whose time has come. Many Bradley County taxpayers — most of them elderly citizens — are finding it harder to scrape together the necessary cash for the conventional once-per-year, lump-sum property tax payment. For them, an installment plan — which operates like mortgage, credit card or car loan payments — makes settling up with the government a lot less painful.

Consider this: If a Bradley County homeowner or property owner struggles to make a $500 tax payment once per year, then 12 monthly payments of about $43 would lessen the strain on the checkbook while taking some of the sting out of the whole process.

Bradley County Trustee Mike Smith said it best the other day when he told our newspaper, “Many of our participants are elderly taxpayers who no longer have the same spending power because they live on a fixed income. It is for this group of citizens that partial payment can be most helpful.”

He added, “But it is certainly not limited to the elderly. People’s lives change, their circumstances change. This often impacts their spending power and their cash availability. They’re happy to meet their tax obligations, but they understand that now they need options in how to pay their taxes.”

At last report, the Trustee’s Office had recorded 1,430 participants in the program. The number fluctuates because of the mortality of taxpayers, especially the elderly. In other cases, homes or property are sold, and the new owners choose not to keep the parcels listed in the partial payment initiative.

Of those who sign up for partial payment, the majority will choose a monthly option. Some decide to make quarterly payments, or perhaps biannual. The point is, a property owner can negotiate his own payment terms with the Trustee’s Office assuming the full tax obligation is paid on time.

The beauty of a partial payment plan is that it is voluntary, it is negotiable and taxpayers can choose to pull out of the program should their circumstances change.

Mostly, partial payment is an initiative intended for taxpayers who struggle with cash flow on a year-round basis. They can pay smaller amounts repeatedly, but not larger amounts in a single lump-sum.

Payments can be made by personal check, credit card, debit card, cash or automatic withdrawal. Residents can pay their taxes by sending their checks in the mail or dropping by the Trustee’s Office to pay in person.

Here’s an important reminder: Due to the Bradley County Courthouse fire, the Trustee’s Office is set up in a temporary location. It is housed in the former SouthEast Bank building at the corner of 17th and Keith streets, on the side opposite the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway.

Details about the partial payment program, or other tax initiatives offered by the trustee, can be obtained by calling 423-728-7248. Trustee’s Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

Two other programs offered for taxpayers include the tax relief and tax freeze plans. Elderly residents and veterans should be especially interested in these. Details are available at the Trustee’s Office.

Under this year’s partial payment program, the first payment toward 2018 taxes will be due March 15.

The next available enrollment period for partial payment will be in November, and that will be for 2019 taxes.

In past editorials, we have endorsed the innovative partial payment plan. We do so again today.

Partial payment can’t solve all the problems plaguing a cash-strapped individual or family. But it can sure soften some of the pain in facing them.

Consider the partial payment program.

Not everyone needs it. But for those who do, it’s a perfect fit.

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