Getting ready for tax time

Residents of Ward County are making their yearly trek, or telephone call, to the Ward County Auditor and Treasurer’s office to pay their yearly property taxes.

“We’ve got people lining up and phones are ringing off the hook. It’s a typical time after taxes go out,” said Devra Smestad, the county auditor and treasurer, in an interview.

All the tax statements were sent out Monday morning from the office. The process has been reportedly much smoother than last year when there was a bit of a challenge not with sending out the tax statements, but with people receiving them.

Tax statements were sent out last year by Dec. 18 but some people never got them and a new batch had to be sent out while the phones buzzed with questions about where the statements were. Smestad said that the missing deliveries remain a mystery.

While Smestad said that her office likes to have statements sent out no later than Dec. 15, by law they have until Dec. 26 to send them out. Monday is a week past that Dec. 15 date to shoot for.

“I think we were on track until we found some programming errors and needed to get them fixed,” Smestad said of the partial delay in sending out the statements. “And that kind of held us up for a few days. Once that was done we just started running them and folding them.”

There are a little over 37,000 property owners in Ward County and Smestad isn’t sure what percentage of them have already paid their taxes.

Those property owners who want to take advantage of the 5 percent discount for early filing should have their taxes paid no later than Feb. 15, 2014. Any payment post-marked before that date will receive the discount.