September 28, 2010 By Russell Nichols
With bar codes on tax bills and an upgraded online tax options, the Madison County, Ky., Sheriff’s Department hopes to streamline services for taxpayers this season.
Starting Oct. 1, all tax bills will have bar codes, which will be processed with handheld scanners that the department purchased with Justice Assistant Grant funding. The scanned bills will appear on the computer screen immediately, reducing processing time as well as how long customers who come into the office have to wait in line.
“When taxpayers come into the office or send it through the mail, we can just scan the bill,” said Maj. Teri Begley of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. “Their bill will automatically pop up in our tax collection program. This is a more efficient and faster way to mark property taxes paid.”
As the authorized collector of state, county, school and district property taxes, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department is among the latest to utilize technology to improve tax collection. According to Begley, a number of sheriff departments in the area have been using the scanners for about a year.
With state and local governments struggling with tight budgets, these modern tools prove to be invaluable for tax collection and service delivery.
For example, Madison County’s second new feature this year expands the amount of tax information that users can find on the county website. Before, Begley said, the site contained basic data, but taxpayers couldn’t search for bills or find payment information.
With the recent upgrades, which will cost $1,200 for the year, users can search for specific bills, see all the amounts paid and print it out to use it as a receipt, Begley said.
“This will be beneficial for homeowners whose mortgage companies pay the tax bills,” she said. “It will also be beneficial to paralegals and tax attorneys for property closing purposes.”
Overall, Begley said, the department expects the technology upgrades to improve service, make the process easier for taxpayers and save time for collectors now that they don’t have to manually key in bill information.
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