For the vast majority of Texas property owners, Friday January 31, 2014, is the last day to pay 2013 taxes without penalty and interest. Following the tradition of the last nine years, the Galveston and League City branches of the Galveston County Tax Office (GCTO) will be open from 7 am to 6 pm January 31st. The Santa Fe, Texas City and Friendswood Satellite office will be open normal operating hours of 8 am to 5 pm.
“It is not unusual for us to have several thousand property tax customers a day during the last week of January. Add to that nearly 30,000 vehicle registration renewals and customers can expect long lines,“ warned County Tax Assessor Collector Cheryl E. Johnson. As in the past, central office administrators will be dispatched to lend at hand at all full time offices during the last week to provide additional assistance but there still could be a longer wait. Another tradition by the tax collector to sweeten the wait? Chocolate kisses.
GCTO accepts over-the-counter credit and debit cards, checks and cash but Johnson encourages customers to “Go Online and Avoid the Line” at www.galcotax.com. Electronic checks are $1 and credit cards incur a 2.5% merchant or convenience fee (not paid by most governments). Those without internet access may pay using a credit card by calling Pay Connexion at 1-866-865-1433 (English) or 1-866-865-1435 (Spanish).
Payments may be mailed but postmarks are critical. To avoid tax penalties, obtain a postmark validation from USPS. In addition to the mail, payments may be dropped in the Tax Office drop box located outside each building. All payments left in the box are assumed received by midnight thus payments left prior to opening February 3rd will be assumed to have been dropped by the January 31st deadline.
The Governor declared Galveston County a disaster area due to the drought and disaster installments are available for those who have suffered damage. This applies to both residential and business properties thanks to laws GCTO was instrumental in changing after Hurricane Ike. Additional changes in the last session include installments for disabled vets and the ability for seniors, disabled persons and disabled vets to retain the installment payment option if they fail to meet the January 31st deadline. This, along with the ability of the tax assessor to offer lower penalty installment agreements are additional benefits Texas property owners will experience this year. Coupons for those participating in the four payment installment plan will receive remaining payment coupons by March 1st. Those participating in the split or half payment option will receive their final payment coupon in April.
“If your taxes are too high for 2013, it is likely because you have not protested your value and, unless there is an error on your account, it is too late to change that now,” stated Johnson who will provide classes in the spring on how to “Effectively Protest Your 2014 Appraised Value.” The free classes begin at 6 pm and run just under two hours. Schedules are included on the back of the tax statement, on the newsletter and below.
4/22/14 – Galveston County Courthouse, 722 Moody (21st St), Galveston
5/01/14 – Fine Arts Auditorium Room F-117, COM, 1200 Amburn Road, Texas City
5/15/14 – Judge McCumber’s Courtroom, North County Annex, 174 Calder Drive, League City
5/20/14 – Galveston County Courthouse, 722 Moody (21st St), Galveston