Deadline rush eats into tax office hours

By Ian White

CIVIL SERVANTS in the county’s tax offices are about to work longer hours and take shorter lunch breaks in an effort to help residents meet the 2016 property-tax deadline on January 31.
But property owners who leave payment until the last minute could still miss out – because more than 20,000 motorists are expected to renew their vehicle registrations in the meantime!
With only days remaining for timely payment of last year’s property-tax bill, tax assessor Cheryl Johnson said the tax office “is making it as easy as possible” for property owners to avoid penalties for late payment.
She said the office’s Galveston and League City branches will both open for extended hours on January 31 and that extra staff will be helping out in all branches, with shortened lunches “to keep the counters full throughout the last week of January”.  
Johnson also released a set of “fast facts” about payment options that made it clear there is no provision for disaster installments this year.
As well as being the last day for full payment, January 31, on Tuesday next week, is also the last day for seniors, disabled people and disabled armed-service veterans or their surviving spouses to pay their first quarterly installment.
The tax office’s League City and Galveston branches will open from 7:30am to 5:30pm on January 31, with all offices including Santa Fe and Texas City open daily 8:00am to 5:00pm in the meantime and its Friendswood satellite for the same hours on Thursday and Friday.
Anyone needing directions to any of the locations can call 1-877-766-2284.
Property owners can pay in person by cash, check and credit or debit card but not by credit-card check.
They can also drop their payment in boxes outside the branch offices before 8:00am on February 1 or send payment by mail bearing a non-meter USPS postmark no later than January 31.
Johnson said postal payers should remember that the county’s mail is routed through north Houston, adding a day to the postmarking process.
Online payment at requires a $1 fee for an electronic check or a 2.5 per cent bank fee for using a credit card.
Telephone payments can be made with credit or debit card at 1-866-865-1433 for instructions in English and 1-866-865-1435 for a Spanish-language alternative.

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