Help is available for Santa Clara County homeowners whose property taxes are due.
While assessments are on the rise, taxpayers have the option of paying what they can, even if it’s not the entire amount owed.
Until now, the county could only accept full payments for property taxes, which are due twice a year. The bill averages 1 percent for Santa Clara County residents and is sometimes a family’s biggest expense, apart from the mortgage itself.
County officials estimate that one in 25 taxpayers struggle to pay the full amount as a lump sum, but could afford to pay it in installments. They believe that flexibility will make it possible for more property owners to make the tax deadlines with fewer penalties, which in turn will help the county collect at least some of the $29 million that people couldn’t pay last year.
“The notion that they’d get whacked with a 10 percent fee and an 18 percent annual interest on money they were prepared to pay,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian said, “is fundamentally unfair and that’s what we’re trying to address here.”
The Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association disagrees.
“If the Board of Supervisors really (wants) to help the taxpayers, how about reducing property taxes rather than making it ‘easier’ to pay the taxes,” the association’s Mark Hinkle argued.
County officials are hosting workshops at which people can learn more about the partial payment option. The first is from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Board Chambers at the County Government Center at 70 W. Hedding Street.
The second is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday in the Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium at the County Government Center at 70 W. Hedding Street.