MOORLACH UPDATE — Property Taxes Due — April 9, 2011

When I was Treasurer-Tax Collector, I prayed that a reporter or columnist would do an article on the property tax deadline.  I really did not want taxpayers to be late on their payments.  A 10 percent late penalty is a killer on a family budget.  Consequently, today’s column by Barbara Venezia in the OC Register is a welcome sight.  Today’s LOOK BACK provides another example of this good fortune.  If Barbara’s column saved you a late payment penalty, then your subscription to the OC Register paid for itself.

Now, as a Supervisor with declining revenues and having the responsibility to make budget cuts, I really don’t want you to pay your taxes on time.  The County really, really needs the delinquent fee revenues.  Please forget to make your payment by Monday.

Wow, I can’t believe I even let those evil thoughts come out.  Scratch that last sentence.  J

BONUS

In yesterday’s OC Register’s OC Watchdog column by Teri Sforza, she included comments concerning my “MOORLACH UPDATE — Brown Pension Reform — April 1, 2011.”  See http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2011/04/04/pensions-not-porches-cry-protesting-public-workers/79583/.  It’s always nice to see my Updates integrated into news articles.  Gov. Brown has stepped onto the pension reform stage.  Let’s hope the Governor delivers to taxpayer satisfaction, as opposed to recent Charlie Sheen concert performances.  Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

Orange County pension warrior/Supervisor John Moorlach noted that “Gov. Brown’s proposals closely resemble those proffered by the Little Hoover Commission,” and echoes Moorlach’s own testimony to then-Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission four years ago.

Something’s really happening when Jerry Brown and John Moorlach start agreeing on things, don’t you think?

Venezia: How to make tax time a little more bearable

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By BARBARA VENEZIA

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST

bvontv@earthlink.net

It’s that time of the year when taxes are on everyone’s mind. And on Monday, the second installment of property taxes is due. This has been extended one day because April 10 is a Sunday.

This year I decided to pay my property tax online at the county’s website ocgov.org. It was surprisingly easy. You have the option of paying by checking, savings account, debit or credit card.

If you’re cutting things close this tax season, credit card payments offer a bit more convenience and speed as you can even phone in a payment at 714-834-3411 last minute, but they do charge a 2.5 percent fee.

Checking and savings online payments don’t post immediately. Depending on your bank, payment could take a few days to hit. Late fees here can be expensive. According to the website, after Sunday, a "10% penalty is added to unpaid accounts thereafter, plus cost of $10 per bill."

If you’re mailing taxes it’s smart to use registered mail. All mail must be postmarked no later than Monday.

Since property taxes are split into two payments, I asked OC Treasurer -Tax Collector Shari Freidenrich why the site doesn’t allow pre-programmed payments like other tax sites. She hadn’t been asked that before, but she said she thought it was a good idea and would look into it. Shari reminded me that taxpayers can sign up for email payment reminders on the county’s site too.

For those waiting to the very last minute, Supervisor John Moorlach told me you can drop your payment off on Monday directly at county offices in Santa Ana. The parking lot on Ross Street will be set up for easy access in and out but you must be there by 5:00 p.m.

Ever wonder where your property tax dollars go?

Mostly to the state – O.C. retains the least amount of property taxes of any county in California. While San Francisco retains 71 percent of their property taxes, O.C. retains 12.1 percent. Talk about a bad deal!

In O.C., out of every dollar, 47 percent goes to schools, 19 percent to cities, 13 percent goes to the county, 11 percent to special districts and Community Redevelopment agencies receive 10 percent.

With a downturn in real estate values, if you feel the assessed value on your property should be lower you can go through the assessment appeals process. Several appeal options are offered on the website. As easy as the county tries to make it, it’s still time consuming and can be frustrating.

One neighbor, who told me he opted for an appeals hearing, said "don’t expect any quick results." He’s been now waiting close to a year for a hearing date. In the meantime, he must continue to pay his tax bills. If he doesn’t get a hearing this year, he’ll have to re-apply next year again. If he wins his appeal he could get money back from the county with interest.

What amount does the county bill in secured property taxes each year? Shari said as of March 25, $4.8 billion and $1.6 billion are still outstanding from the second installment.

I asked Shari, who was just elected in November, how she likes her new job. She said she’s "having fun."

Well at least there’s someone enjoying tax time!

Here’s something new: You can get text alerts of the latest Costa Mesa stories – including my column – from ocregister.com by texting OCRCOSTA to 56654. News alerts will be about three to seven times a week.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

April 10

2001

David Reyes of the LA Times did a piece, titled Property Tax Payments Due Today – If pressed for time, you can avoid a penalty by mailing bill at the main Santa Ana post office by 11 p.m.”  Please remember that this is a ten-year old article and that yesterday’s LOOK BACK was from a five-year old article.  Please check the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s website to see if addresses and other information mentioned in these articles have changed. 

You can see how this article was contemporary for 2001 when you’re warned about “the possibility of rolling blackouts.”  Who knows what may happen, so don’t wait until the very last second to pay your property taxes.

Orange County property owners have until today to pay their second property tax installment without paying a penalty.

To avoid a penalty, property owners should have their payments postmarked no later than today, said John M.W. Moorlach, county treasurer-tax collector.

"We now have a working relationship with the U.S. postmaster of Orange County that provides taxpayers with the ability to mail their payments up to 11 p.m. on April 10 at the main branch" on Sunflower Avenue and Susan Street in Santa Ana, Moorlach said.

Property taxes are paid in two annual installments, the first due in December and the second April 10.

Not all property taxes stay in the county’s treasury. The county’s cut is 7%, with California’s school districts receiving 65% of the money, 11% going to cities, 11% to special districts and the remaining 6% to redevelopment agencies.

Property owners may also pay in person from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at the Hall of Finance and Records, 12 Civic Center Plaza, Room G-58, Santa Ana.

Property owners can also pay online using a credit card by logging on to the treasurer’s Web site: http://www.oc.ca.gov/treas.

But officials encouraged taxpayers who want to use that method to make their payments early because of the possibility of rolling blackouts, which could delay electronic payments.

For information on payments, contact the tax collector’s division at (714) 834-3411. General tax bill information is also available on the Internet at the office’s e-mail address: http://www.ttcinfo@treastax.co.orange.ca.us.

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