Paying tax bill now more convenient

Published 10:56 pm Saturday, October 24, 2009

Although nobody looks forward to paying his taxes, the process will be a little easier this year thanks to a more convenient Internet-based system.

“This enhances our online interactive ability with service to the taxpayers,” city treasurer Ron Williams said.

Although Suffolk taxpayers have been able to pay online using credit cards for several years, taxpayers previously had to have their bill available or call for the account balance to find out how much they owed. The new system now allows taxpayers to check the amount of their bill online and review their accounts before paying.

Eliminating unnecessary calls to the treasurer’s office not only will be more convenient for residents, but also will free up employees’ time for other tasks, Williams said.

“Sometimes the bill may have been lost or misplaced, or they didn’t receive the bill,” Williams said. “When those calls come in, it’s always at a very busy time. This will hopefully give the taxpayer an alternative way to get the information so they can pay their bill in a timely manner.”

Williams said the city purchased the software several years ago, but had to make upgrades to the city’s servers before the new system could be put into motion.

The system also will allow people to review the tax history on property for the last five years. This information can be helpful to real estate agents, attorneys, people considering purchasing the property, and others, Williams said. People used to have to go the circuit court clerk’s office to find that information.

“This will give them the added convenience of being able to check it from the convenience of their home or office,” Williams said. “We get calls for this information all the time. This will make it more convenient to the citizens in general and business community, and free up the staff of the treasurer’s office to work on other things, like delinquent tax collections, that will enhance the city’s revenue. It’s both a customer service initiative and an efficiency initiative that will save the taxpayers in general over time.”

Staff in the treasurer’s office tested the system with about 100 transactions before putting it online, Williams said. About 100 residents have paid their bills through the system since it went live.

“We’re very excited about being able to add this customer service,” Williams said.

Residents who prefer the old-fashioned way still can pay their bill in person by cash, check, money order or credit card at 441 Market St. or 2000 Bennett’s Creek Park Road from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Payments also can be mailed to P.O. Box 1583, Suffolk, VA 23439, placed in the 24-hour drop box at 441 Market St., or called in to 1-888-2PAY-TAX.

To use the new online system, visit www.suffolk.va.us/trsr.