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Property tax is due

Escambia County residents have until Dec. 31 to avoid paying a penalty on their annual property tax bills.

More than $16.5 million was billed in October, and of that, more than $11 million in taxes remain outstanding, said county tax collector Tim Pettis.

“As of Tuesday morning, the office had collected $5 million in annual ad valorem taxes,” Pettis said. “Under Alabama law, residents have until Dec. 31 to pay to avoid a penalty.”

Those who do not pay by the Dec. 31 deadline will face a 3 percent penalty as well as other fees in January. Penalty fees increase each month until the April tax sale.

County tax assessor, Thad Moore, said that he would like to protect the county’s taxpayers from paying one penny above what is fair.

“One tool for achieving this is making sure that our taxpayers are aware of the exemptions available to them,” Moore said. “There are four exemptions available, including the homestead exemption, disability exemption, over 65 exemption and the current use exemption.”

The homestead exemption applies to a property owner’s principal residence and up to 160 acres of land that adjoin the principal residence.  If someone acquires a new piece of property that will be their primary residence, they can apply for the homestead exemption by visiting the Tax Assessor’s office.  If there is any future deed involving the property, the homestead exemption must be re-applied for.

The disability exemption applies to those that have been deemed 100 percent permanently medically disabled. The Code of Alabama requires documentation from the Social Security Administration, the VA, or from two Alabama doctors that are providing direct care for the disabled person.

The over 65 exemption applies to persons over 65 years in age for their homestead property. The amount of the exemption is based on income.  Like other exemptions, this exemption must be applied for.  The age of taxpayers is unknown and therefore it can’t automatically be given to an individual when they turn 65 years old.

The current use exemption is available in most cases for timber land, agricultural land, and pasture land.  Please call 251.867.9168 to inquire about eligibility for the current use exemption.  In most cases, the current use exemption will lower taxes on timber land, agricultural land, and pasture land.

Payments may be made in person at the Escambia County Courthouse and made by credit/debit card by calling 251.867.0299 or at the counter in the courthouse. There is a 2.5 percent fee added when paying with a credit/debit card.