New law gives counties an online option to help save taxpayer dollars, time

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -– Next year, Hoosiers could receive their property tax statements by e-mail and make monthly online tax payments if their county elects to do so, according to State Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette).

House Enrolled Act 1344, supported by Alting and Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Wheatfield) and recently signed into law, gives counties the option to send property tax statements via e-mail. All residents would have to do is voluntarily make a request to use e-mail instead of U.S. mail.

Many grimace at the notion of writing one or two large property tax checks per year.

Many grimace at the notion of writing one or two large property tax checks per year.

“Direct deposit of payments through EFT has become increasingly popular because it is more secure and, for most recipients, more convenient than checks,” Alting said. “County governments can also save money by eliminating some of their printing, processing and postage costs.”

Hershman said the program is voluntary for counties and taxpayers. The county executive body must first pass an ordinance allowing for the method to be used and the taxpayer must sign a waiver and give an e-mail address to their county treasurer.

“An average county spends a $1 to a $1.50 to print and mail each property tax bill,” Hershman said. “Depending on taxpayer participation, counties could save thousands of dollars by sending out statements electronically and using a monthly, online payment system.”

Tippecanoe County Treasurer Bob Plantenga said mailings make up the biggest portion of his operating budget and using an electronic system could mean real savings.

“This measure could be a win-win situation for the taxpayers and for the taxing entities,” Plantenga said. “Writing a large check twice a year for property taxes can be burdensome on budgets, but by having an online, monthly payment option Hoosiers could have more predictability when planning for expenses.”

Indiana’s Department of Local Government Finance will create a waiver so taxpayers can authorize online actions by electronic mail.

Currently, Indiana law permits automatic payments from checking accounts. Some counties have a service contract allowing taxpayers to pay their total bill online or by phone.

House Enrolled Act 1344 is effective July 1, 2009.

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