Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON – Come October, Marshall County residents will be able to use debit and credit cards to pay property tax bills.
Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars said the new service is offered through third party service Government Payments. For Visa, MasterCard and Discover credit cards, a convenience fee of 2.75 percent plus $1.50 will be assessed. For PIN debit cards, the fee is 1.5 percent plus $1.50. For Visa Signature debits, the fee is a flat $3.95.
“Right now, we are starting with tax bill payments only, because we have a large volume of money coming in,” Byars said. “We will see if we like it once we get a major part of tax bills out of the way and then see if we can use it for other fees like fingerprints, accident reports or serving papers.”
Byars said a next logical step will be creating a website for clients to make payments online.
Demand for credit or debit card payments has increased over the past few years.
“This is a secure payment system endorsed by the Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association,” Byars said. “As an added incentive, the vendor is sending 10 percent of its proceeds to the Kentucky Sheriffs’ Ranch as an incentive to get more departments on board.”
Byars said his department prints about 23,000 bills every year. He anticipates more taxpayers will have the means to pay their bills during the discount period via credit card, rather than waiting until they receive an income tax refund and pay with a penalty in the early part of 2013.
“Demand has been so high,” Byars said. “We did our research to find a company that was a good fit for us, and didn’t totally gig our consumers.”
Byars said some companies offered the service with fees too high to make payment sustainable, especially during the two-percent discount fee through October.
The Sheriff’s Department will collect tax bills with the two-percent discount through Nov. 1. Byars said tax bills will be collected at face value from Nov. 2 through Dec. 31. Starting Jan. 1, bills will see a five-percent penalty. Starting Feb. 2, the penalty rises to 21 percent of the bill.