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Taxpayers still owe money
March 12, 2013
Klickitat County taxpayers who have tax statement appeals pending before the County Board of Equalization are still liable for 2013 first half property taxes, according to the County Treasurer's Office.
The county mailed real and personal property tax statements to taxpayers at the end of February. First-half taxes (one half of the total bill) must be paid by April 30 to avoid incurring interest or penalty.
"We have had quite a few taxpayers call and ask what they are supposed to pay if their appeal has not been finalized, and they seem surprised that they have to pay the initial tax unless and until the appeal is either stipulated to or withdrawn," Treasurer Dani Burton said Monday in follow-up to a public service announcement issued March 10 by her office.
"My goal is to keep people from paying interest and penalty they didn't have to pay," Burton noted. "It is also very time-consuming for my staff to keep repeating the same message individually, so I hope to reach as many taxpayers in this situation as possible."
Other taxpayers have called the Treasurer's Office to ask why their taxes have not been recalculated in light of their reaching a verbal agreement on valuation with the County Assessor's Office.
"There seems to be the misconception that reaching a verbal agreement with the Assessor's Office is good enough," said Burton. "Unfortunately, until the agreement has been signed by both parties and is filed with the Board of Equalization, it doesn't exist as far as what we can do is concerned, so I want people to understand that a verbal agreement only isn't legally binding as far as their taxes go."
She added that the signed agreement -- called an Assessment Roll Corrections Agreed to by the Taxpayer form -- must be filed with the Board of Equalization prior to April 30 before a taxpayer's tax bill can be recalculated by the Treasurer's Office.
Alternatively, if, due to timing, a taxpayer has paid first-half taxes owed and the Corrections form is filed with the Board of Equalization after the payment, that taxpayer's taxes will be recalculated for the second half and a new statement will be issued with a corrected amount due.
Since the beginning of the new year, noted Burton, the Treasurer's Office has performed some 375 tax bill recalculations "for various reasons," including more than 100 last week.
"I have quite a few more I already know about, but I have no idea how many more will be coming," she said. As of Monday morning, the Board of Equalization still had some 500 cases on its docket; taxpayers filed a majority of the appeals last July and August.
Another concern Burton has heard from taxpayers regards property tax exemptions. "We have had instances where people should have had exemptions continue, but they didn't," Burton said. "I recalculated quite a few of those last week, but I do not know if there are more out there."
To that end, Burton encourages taxpayers to scrutinize their tax statements to be sure everything is in order.
"If you have had a Head of Family, Senior, or any other type of exemption in the past and feel you should still be entitled to that exemption but do not see it reflected on your statement, please contact the Assessor's Office directly," she said. Also, "If you have property whose total assessed value is less than $500, you may be entitled to an exemption on that property. Again, please contact the Assessor's Office directly is this pertains to you."
For more information about assessed values or exemptions, taxpayers can call the Assessor's Office's toll-free number, 800-764-2235. For more information regarding tax payments, contact the Treasurer's Office at 800-766-5403, or go online at klickitatcountytreasurer.org and click on the Tax Information-Property Search link.