The Bradley County Trustee’s Office has begun its latest period of open enrollment for its monthly payment program and its tax relief and tax freeze programs.
Until Dec. 13 and beginning again on Jan. 2, 2014, taxpayers can sign up for a 12-month payment plan to pay their property taxes.
Taxpayers can choose to make payments in person at the office, by mail or by an automatic checking account withdrawal.
County Trustee Mike Smith said the idea of a county resident being able to pay in monthly installments is still a fairly new one. The 12-month payment program is only in its third year due to the state-mandated changes he said the county had to make as it began to introduce the option.
“We’ve had to put them [the programs] in steps,” Smith said.
Though the enrollment period for the 12-month program is happening now and again during the early part of next year, the first payment will not actually be due until March 15, 2014.
How much the payment will be each month is determined by an agreement between the individual taxpayer and the office. Smith said staff will look up the property’s tax history and make suggestions based on it, but it will be up to the individual to decide whether or not they pay more than the minimum. Some choose to “pad” their tax payments by making higher-than-necessary ones in case property tax rates increase over the course of the year.
Smith said the monthly payment program has “exceeded expectations” ever since it began in Bradley County. During 2013, some 575 different parcels of land were represented in the property tax program.
In addition to the monthly payment program, the Trustee’s Office also has a partial payment program for both current and delinquent taxes. This would allow property owners to make partial payments from the time they are enrolled until Feb. 28, 2014.
Until April 7 of next year, taxpayers can also enroll in the tax relief and tax freeze programs through the office.
The tax relief program is mandated by the state and allows the elderly and disabled with combined incomes of less than $27,800 per year to receive discounts on their tax bills. Veterans who are permanently disabled can also apply for the tax relief program, and there is no income limit for that segment of the population.
The discount ranges from $114 to $140, depending on various factors like the value of the property. Those enrolled in the tax relief program must reapply each year.
The tax freeze program, which was put in place by the Bradley County Commission in 2007, allows people above a certain age to avoid potential tax increases by continuing to pay the current tax rate if they qualify for the program.
“The tax freeze won’t be a reduction, but the taxes will stay the same if there is an increase,” Smith said.
Applicants for that must be above the age of 65, and their incomes of both them and their spouses must total less than $30,600 per year.
Smith said some 1,400 Bradley County residents are enrolled in both programs.
For more information about the tax programs, call the Bradley County Trustee’s Office at 423-728-7247 or visit the office in Room 104 of the Bradley County Courthouse.