Time winds down for property owners to get income tax break

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Now that the Christmas shopping is out of the way, people are turning their attention to their taxes.

"You can kind of see what you have left over to kind of pay your taxes," Chief Deputy Clerk Teresa White said.

Back in November, Jackson County's Tax Collector's office mailed out more than 60,000 tax notices. Property owners were told they had until February, 2010 to pay their property bills. However, if they paid before New Year's Day, they'd get a tax break, and the county would win, too.

"It is a bigger deduction for a lot of people on their income tax. The benefit to the county, and the cities, and the schools is of course to distribute that money in the first part of January," Tucker said.

Yet the clerks in Jackson County's Tax Collector's Office say only 30 percent of the county's landowners are taking advantage of the early payment.

"Last year, I think we had more that paid by this time," White said.

Ron Philips was one of the early birds. He showed up on the first business day after Christmas to make sure his property tax bill was taken care of.

"What is good for me, may not be good for somebody else. But I think if you can, you should take advantage of it," Philips said.

Tax collectors blame the sluggish economy for the lack of business at their counters.

"You have to make a choice that either you pay taxes or buy groceries. But the economy, I believe, is the problem."

Clerks at the office said they understand the financial struggles many face, but they encourage people with money to rush in and pay by Wednesday. The county tax office will be closed on Thursday and Friday for the New Year's holiday.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.