In 2013, we continued the battle to allow Property Taxpayers the convenience of making partial payments, as opposed to the current state law of only allowing payments twice a year.
In January 2013, Representative Matt Shea introduced HB 1430 which would have allowed partial payments of any amount at any time and also eliminate the usurious penalties for late payments. Unfortunately, this bill died in Committee. However, a compromise bill, introduced by Rep. Reuven Carlyle and Senator Pam Roach, did pass the legislature and allowed County Treasurers to accept a payment agreement. This agreement requires a delinquent taxpayer be up to date on the current year’s tax at the time the agreement is signed. They can then make payments on their delinquent tax but if a payment is missed, the participant is removed from the program. The challenge of catching up late payments, and staying current was too difficult for most late payers and they were unable to qualify for the payment agreement. All in all, even with these restrictions, we were able to extend payment agreements to 101 taxpayers.
In the 2014 session, beginning in January, we wrote HB 2309, which was introduced by Rep. Cary Condotta, while companion bill SB 5705 was introduced by Senator Michael Baumgartner. We were more successful this time as HB 2309 passed the House (97 – 0), and then passed the Senate (44 - 5). The bill was signed by Governor Inslee on March 15th and will take
effect January 1, 2015. The new bill allows a delinquent taxpayer to make payments on their property tax of any amount at any time without the need for an agreement. This is the first time in Washington State History a taxpayer can make payments more frequently than the semi-annual payment and may allow them to easier budget their tax bill to their income. The interest and penalties will still apply but we plan on introducing legislation next session to eliminate the penalties. If successful, overdue taxes will be assessed interest only.
The line of taxpayers making their property tax payments dwindled again this year as more taxpayers get used to paying electronically. The lines will be further reduced when we roll out our new payment option; making tax payments through MoneyGram, which operates out of grocery stores, such as Walmart all across the country. Title Companies will also be able to pay Real Estate Excise Tax from their office locations.
We were delighted to receive a Customer Service rating of 96% from a feedback survey of 400 participants which included Taxpayers, Districts, Title Companies, and other Departments!
Our Website Committee received many compliments from the public for our Spokane County Treasurer's website by changing the look, enhancing usability, and providing more information to the public thereby increasing taxpayer access to information.
It is our desire to be open and approachable to the public. If you have any issues or constructive feedback, please do not hesitate to contact us.
In your service,
Spokane County Treasurer