St. Joseph County finally has a clue how and when it will collect property taxes for this year.
The bills are being sent out much later than usual, and, for some, they should come uncomfortably close to the holidays.
St. Joseph County Treasurer Sean Coleman today announced that the bills will be mailed two weeks from today, starting the week of December 15th.
That means some folks who have already started their Christmas shopping don’t know what their biggest Christmas bill is going to be, (assuming that’s their property tax bill).
"Well yes it is a big deal,” said Javan Rogers of South Bend. “Especially when you don't know from one day to the next one what's going on."
Today, Rogers came to the property tax payment line to fork over what he guessed he might owe. While he was alone in making a payment, perhaps he wasn’t alone in his concern that his bill still hasn’t arrived.
"We were concerned when they're out shopping at Christmas time, that they're also going to have to pay their property tax, their first installment that same week,” said St. Joseph County Commissioner Mark Dobson. “That might change the Christmas dynamic in families."
Dobson and others bent over backwards to avoid appearing Grinch-like. They appealed to the state for a February due date.
While that appears to take care of much of the conflict with Christmas, it creates serious income tax implications.
Property taxes must be paid in calendar 2008, in order to be claimed as a 2008 income tax deduction.
For many with a mortgage, there’s the potential that the decision will be made for them.
"We do have one escrow service that has 70-different mortgage companies that they make payments for and we sent letters to those 70-mortgage companies because the escrow company itself will not and cannot statutorily make the payments before--they don't make the payments before the due date, or very close to the due date,” said St. Joseph County Treasurer Sean Coleman.
Coleman says that St. Joseph County is one of only seven counties in the state that has yet to send out bills.
There is one exception to that rule. Taxpayers in Olive Township will have to wait even longer. Olive Township shares a school corporation with LaPorte County, and LaPorte County has not received final budget approval from the state.