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State property taxes due; I.E. struggles

April 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's the deadline for residents to pay the second installment of their property taxes, with penalties for those who don't. But in this economic climate, many homeowners say penalties don't matter: They don't have the cash.It's been busier than normal at the County Administration Center in Riverside. This is one of the spots where people could drop in, pay their property taxes without suffering a 10-percent penalty, beginning Saturday. Collecting the money that fuels county governments is a big job.

Most property owners have paid by mail. In San Bernardino County, 20,000 checks an hour can be processed. In both counties, more taxpayers are paying electronically -- it's being encouraged. In Riverside, more than 895,000 tax bills were sent. Many people were paying up Friday.

"Percentage is hard to gauge, but in terms of sheer numbers we could expect to see approximately 2,000 people come into our office locations, and on our Web site and on our telephone system, several thousands more," said an official. "Some folks wait to the last minute, unfortunately."

Annette Long of Riverside had a perfectly logical reason for waiting to pay Friday.

"Have to hold on to my money as long as I can, and when I have to pay something, then I pay it," said Long.

In San Bernardino County, six boxes of payments were received Friday. They'll be processed, then the money put into the market. The county has invested well, but the shortfall for county operations in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties are substantial.

"I've been here 21 years. And in my 21 years in this office, this is the worst time by far," said another official. "Our delinquency right now is about 8 percent. That's the highest I've ever seen it on the secured property tax rolls, which are houses and land. And some of the stories you're hearing now are very tragic."

Richard and Jessica Lopez recently bought a home in San Bernardino.

"We bought a home that was under value, and you pay for the full amount that it had been assessed the year previous, prior to you purchasing it, so we overpay, then they would give us a refund," said Jessica Lopez.

There are a lot of changes in the property tax laws. For more information:
County of San Bernardino Treasurer-Tax Collector
Riverside County Property Tax Portal


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