'Perfect storm' creates delay in town of Beloit tax bills
TOWN OF BELOIT—Town of Beloit residents eager to pay their 2013 property taxes flooded area officials with phone calls after a “perfect storm” delayed mailing the bills, which should have arrived in mailboxes Thursday, town Administrator Brian Wilson said.
Wilson detailed the timeline of events that factored into the delayed mailings:
The town didn't receive its assessed value from the state until Nov. 22, and that number was given to the town board Nov. 25 to consider in its budget discussions.
The town has to provide at least 15 days notice for its public hearing on the budget, which was Dec. 16, when the board set the tax levy, Wilson said. The town Dec. 17 provided the tax information to Rock County, which prints the tax bills.
The county switched software this year, which resulted in “a bit of delay from previous years,” said Michelle Schultz, real property lister for the county. The software switch meant only additional testing was needed to make sure everything was correct, she said, so it didn't create major delays.
The county prints tax bills for municipalities in the order they are received, she said, and when the county received the town of Beloit bills, it already was still processing other municipalities.
The tax bills were ready for the town to pick them up Dec. 23, Wilson said, and the town gave the 4,300 bills to its mass mailer Midwest Mailworks in Rockford, Ill. With the Christmas holiday, the company apparently didn't get the bills mailed until late last week or early this week, he said.
Residents should have received them in the mail Thursday, he said.
“For us, it just was kind of a perfect storm,” he said.
The lack of a hard copy of the tax bill didn't prevent residents from paying their 2013 taxes. Once the bills leave the county office, the taxes are in the county computer system, so anyone can look up the totals on the county website. Mortgage companies that automatically pay residents' tax bills using escrow accounts had access to the bill totals.
County and town officials were able to look up the amount due for residents who called or visited by using their tax identification numbers. The town also posted a link on its website at townofbeloit.org and its Facebook page for residents to look up their taxes.
Taxpayers who missed the Dec. 31 postmark can't claim the property taxes as a 2013 income tax deduction, but they might benefit by doubling up property tax payments in 2014, said Barb Bartlett of Liberty Tax Service in Janesville. It is sometimes helpful for people to pay property taxes in January for the previous year and in December for the current year, she said.
“That's something people can consider,” she said. “Sometimes people do it intentionally. … It depends on their individual situation.”