Lake County to offer online viewing, payment of property tax bills
In a few weeks, Lake County residents potentially for the last time will have the joy of finding their annual property tax bill in the mailbox.
Property taxes certainly aren't going away. But depending on their preference, taxpayers in future years can choose to view and pay their bills electronically with no fees.
The 260,435 property tax bills being mailed in early May will include a bar code to register for future tax bills through eBilling.
By registering for the voluntary program, property owners beginning next year will be notified by email their bill is online and available for viewing.
Lake County Treasurer Holly Kim said the initiative will reduce waste, provide faster delivery and save money on printing and postage costs.
Kim says she and many others are used to receiving other bills online and it's time her office provided the same service.
Property owners who opt for eBilling will be able to click through the website to make a payment online.
"This improvement goes hand in hand with our new initiative to remove fees for paying electronically by check," Kim said.
Fees for online payments now are charged by the third party credit card processor and not received by the treasurer's office, so the change would not impact revenues, she said.
"With this free e-check option, there is a big benefit to property owners," Kim said.
The vendor who prints the tax bills also manages the email bills. After a person signs up, the parcel number is directed to a separate file so a bill doesn't get printed and mailed.
Lake County is back to a standard two-payment procedure for property tax bills. Last year a four-payment option was enacted by the Lake County Board as emergency relief, but the consensus was not to make it permanent.
County officials approved providing tax bills by email as part of a broader goal of a sustainable environment and greater transparency about property taxes.
"Lowering fees for Lake County homeowners has long been a strategic goal for our board," Chair Sandy Hart said in a release announcing the initiative.
"With these two improvements, Lake County homeowners will get their bills quicker, save on postage, pay without a fee and reduce environmental waste," she said.
Kim said more property tax bills were paid last year than in previous years, likely because of the federal stimulus and record number of refinancings that lowered mortgage payments.