CEDAR RAPIDS Linn County property and mobile home tax bills will arrive a lot later than usual this year. But those twice-yearly tax installments still have to be paid on time or property owners will face a penalty.
This year, the actual bills homeowners receive won’t go into the mail until September 11th. That means most owners won’t actually get a bill until close to the middle of the month. The usual goal is to send out bills before the end of August.
Payments are technically due September 1st and March 1st of every year. But owners who pay their own property taxes have until the 30th of those months to pay before triggering a 1.5% late fee.
Sharon Gonzalez, Linn County Treasurer, said startup glitches with a new computer software system installed by the county caused the longer-than-usual delay in getting the information out. After the tax levy is set, the information on each bill including exemptions must be certified by the county auditor’s office.
That didn’t happen this year until August 22nd.
Gonzalez said it usually takes about three weeks to get the certified information and get it ready for an outside vendor to prepare taxpayer statements.
The new software system replaced software that was about 30 years old. It’s expected to eventually make the property tax bill preparation process a lot easier and faster, despite a similar problem and response when tax bills again arrived after the deadline last September.
But Gonzalez and Linn County Auditor Joel Miller both agreed the startup problems with an entirely new system created more problems than expected this year.
We’re working with any issues that come up, let them (vendors) know what the problem is and get them fixed as soon as we possibly can, Gonzalez said.
Miller said the various departments that use the software knew there were issues and worked extra hours to try and get the statements out on time.
My department has worked overtime in preparation for it and during the process and we’re still working overtime to stay abreast of the changes that are occurring, Miller said.
Gonzalez said some taxpayers are coming in now, without knowing their exact bill, and getting the information in person and then writing the property tax check. All the normal payment methods are still available except for the online payment system at www.iowataxandtags.com. Online payments will start after the new real estate property tax software conversion is complete.
Gonzalez said the late arriving bills may not cause problems for most taxpayers because the vast majority usually wait until the final week of September to actually make a payment. Those who pay property taxes through escrow accounts at a mortgage lender are not impacted because mortgage companies take care of the paperwork and payment by a deadline.
Gonzalez said because the tax information was certified before September 1st, Iowa law will not allow a payment extension so the date of September 30th still is the final day for a payment or a postmark to avoid the penalty.