PROPERTY TAX: Payment deadlines draw near

COLUMBIA CITY — The payment deadline for the fall installment of property taxes is Nov. 13. In addition to tax bills being paid, Whitley County Auditor Jennifer McGuire also encourages county residents to turn in Homestead Verification sheets to receive homestead deductions on property taxes.McGuire said this is the third year the auditor’s office has asked property owners to verify their homestead, and approximately 1,724 homesteads have yet to be verified in Whitley County. Benefits of homestead verificationAccording to McGuire, each home owner is limited to one standard homestead deduction.“Homestead verification paperwork must be received by Dec. 31 of this year, or the homestead will be pulled from the property, which in turn, will cause a large increase to the property tax on that parcel since individuals may lose their homestead deduction,” said McGuire. According to McGuire, the increase to the property tax will double.“I think the shocker will come in May,” said McGuire. “There are so many people who rely on their property taxes, and I don’t think they realize the homestead verification sheet is required by state statute.”McGuire said citizens who still need to turn in their homestead verification sheet will receive final notification in a letter from the auditor’s office Nov. 21.Homestead Verification forms have been mailed each year, and are available in the county auditor’s office, located in the County Government Center building on 220 W. Van Buren St., Columbia City.Property tax percentages, net assessed valueAccording to the 2012 Whitley County Property Tax Report with comparison to 2011, Whitley County’s overall tax bill for all taxpayers decreased by 1.9 percent with the certified net assessed value increasing by 1.8 percent.“The reason I feel property taxes are low is because we don’t see a large unemployment rate,” said McGuire.According to McGuire, this year’s property tax breakdown includes the following: 55.7 percent to go to schools, 12.10 percent to go to cities or towns, 4.15 percent to go to townships, 23.03 percent to go to the county and five percent to go to the libraries.To pay fall installment of property taxesAccording to Whitley County Treasurer Lisa Richmond, Whitley County taxpayers can pay their fall installment of property taxes bill using the following methods: By mail, postmarked by Nov. 13, 2012; in person, by taking the statement to the County Treasurer’s Office, located on the second floor in the County Government Center building, 220 W. Van Buren St., Suite 208, Columbia City; online, at for quick and easy online payments and payment by credit card can be paid online at or by phone at 1 (800) 272-9829.According to Richmond, citizens may also pay the fall installment using a drop box, located on the north side of the County Government Center.The Treasurer’s office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office will be closed on Nov. 6, election day, and Nov. 12, Veterans Day.