Tax discount tabled for FY ’19

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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County commissioners decided to table the 3-2-1 tax discount for this fiscal year but will consider it again when planning the budget for fiscal year 2020.

The decision was made at the Sept. 24 meeting after being tossed around for a month.

Citizen Lee Worley of Boyd first asked commissioners to consider the discount at a public hearing in August about the proposed tax rate. If adopted, taxpayers would receive a 3 percent discount if the tax is paid in October, a 2 percent discount if it’s paid in November and a 1 percent discount if it’s paid in December, according to the Texas Tax Code.

Although County Judge J.D. Clark and Precinct 4 Commissioner Gaylord Kennedy expressed interest in the idea at the Sept. 24 meeting, it was too late to implement it for fiscal year 2019. The tax bills had already been sent to the printer, said Wise County Tax Assessor/Collector Monte Shaw.

Shaw had previously told commissioners based on when Wise County citizens paid taxes for this fiscal year, the county would have lost $165,000 to $170,000. In 2015, the county would have lost $252,000.

He also noted the average value of a home in Wise County is $170,000, which would result in a savings of $18 if the tax bill was paid in October.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said if everyone in the county took advantage of the program, it would be a 3 percent hit to the county’s budget.

“We’d have to make it up in reserves [if we did it this year], and then make it up with next year’s tax rate,” he said.

Wise County previously offered a tax discount, but commissioners did away with it in 1997. According to county commissioner minutes, Commissioner Paul Wood said Wise was the only entity, including adjacent counties that allowed a discount at that time, and Deputy Tax Assessor/Collector Judy Barnes said the discount “is more trouble than it’s worth due to confusion of the taxpayers on the amount to be paid, which results in delinquency of the payment if the check is returned for reissuance of the correct amount.”

“And that’s what I’m trying to wrap my head around because you have to be good to the taxpayers on both ends – on the pocketbook and the services,” Clark said. “The principle of it I like very much. The actual implementation of it I’m working my mind around it.”

Burns said if the budget included 3 percent contingency or was padded by 3 percent, it might be possible.

“But we don’t have that,” he said, referencing FY ’19. “We have a tight budget already, and all that does is reduce it. I think most of corporate Wise County would take advantage of it, and that puts a burden on rooftops.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny White wondered if the potential loss in revenue would be worth it to the county when there is no significant tax savings for individual citizens.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Harry Lamance chimed in.

“To some people, $18 amounts to a lot, and to some people it’s a couple of packages of cigarettes,” he said.

Clark asked if the 3-2-1 discount would be something commissioners would consider if enough money was in contingency to set off the loss. Kennedy spoke up and said he was interested in exploring it.

“When we do the budget next year, I’d like to see what it would take to do this, to even implement it,” he said.

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