Q & A for paying your tax bills

  • Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 9:33 p.m.
Staff photo by Haley Hughes
Joycelyn Brown finishes paying taxes at the Aiken County treasurer’s office.
Staff photo by Haley Hughes Joycelyn Brown finishes paying taxes at the Aiken County treasurer’s office.

Approximately 130,000 real estate tax bills have been mailed out to owners of Aiken County property, and the deadline to pay without a penalty is Jan. 15, 2013.

Here is some additional information that can be useful in knowing when, where and how to pay your taxes.

Q: When is payment due?

A: The Aiken County treasurer’s office is accepting payment now. The final due date is 5 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2013. If a letter containing a check is postmarked by Jan. 15, the treasurer’s office will honor that, according to Treasurer Linda Sharpe.

The first penalty will apply to unpaid real estate taxes on Jan. 16, 2013.

Q: How can I submit a payment?

A: There are a variety of ways, including by mail, by drop-box, online or at the treasurer’s office.

The drop-box is located in the parking lot at the Aiken County Complex, 828 Richland Ave. W. It is checked every day; as the payment deadline draws closer, the box will be checked more than once a day.

Payment may be made online at www.aikencountysc.gov using a MasterCard or Visa credit card. Because of credit card processing fees and other costs, Aiken County charges a convenience fee of 2.5 percent on any payments made online. The fee is calculated and shown on the screen before the taxpayer agrees to finalize the payment.

“They have to remember when they pay online, there can be a 48-hour delay in posting to the County tax system,” Sharpe said.

To pay in person, the treasurer’s office is located in the Aiken County Complex and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“There are four full-time windows that are open (to take payments),” Sharpe said.

Q: What types of payment are accepted?

A: A check is ideal via mail or if payment is left in the drop-box. Include the coupon at the bottom of the tax bill for identification purposes.

At the treasurer’s office, payment is accepted either by check, cash or card.

“(If paying in person) people need to have their tax map number. We don’t look up bills by name; there are too many common names, and it’s too easy to get it wrong,” Sharpe said.

Q: Will I get a receipt?

A: Yes. Receipts will be provided to those paying in person, mailed to those who paid by mail or left a payment in the drop-box, and a receipt can be printed following an online payment.

Q: Why am I mailing my tax payment to Charlotte, N.C.?

A: “That is our local bank. Their lock box portion just happens to be in North Carolina,” Sharpe said.

The lock box service allows First Citizens to collect mail in the treasurer office’s post office box in Charlotte, endorse the checks, credit the processed checks to an account and maintain an image archive of each check processed. Even though checks are being mailed to Charlotte, the processed checks are still applied to the proper account here, Sharpe said.

Q: What if I have an escrow account?

A: Your tax payment will likely be debited from that account. Visit www.aikencountysc.gov to check if the payment has indeed been applied to your bill.

Q: When is the best time to pay my tax bill at the treasurer’s office to avoid long lines?

A: The office tends to get busy with payments immediately following Christmas because car tax payments are due around that time, as well, according to Sharpe. Typically, traffic at the office is lighter mid-morning.

“Even with the longest lines down to the lobby, the wait takes only 20 minutes,” Sharpe said, noting she has timed it over the years. “Don’t wait until a Friday, and don’t wait until the last day.”

Email notifications

Sign up at www.aikencountysc.gov to receive property owner email notifications. Aiken County will send notifications to the email address you provide. These notifications may include that a tax bill has been mailed, payment has been received, or that payment has not been received.

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