Property taxes are still due on April 10 in Tuolumne County despite recent extensions of the deadlines for filing state and federal income tax returns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Justin Birtwhistle, the county’s elected treasurer and tax collector.
Birtwhistle said he does not have authority to extend the deadlines for property taxes under California law, and the county needs the revenue to continue providing services like public health, ambulances and law enforcement during the crisis.
“We basically can’t afford to not have that revenue,” he said.
The deadline was technically Feb. 1, but they won’t be considered delinquent until after April 10. A late penalty equal to 10 percent of the amount owed plus a $10 fee are applied to any payments made after that date.
Property, sales and tourism tax revenues are the primary source of the county’s discretionary funding each year, accounting for nearly a quarter of the county’s roughly $80 million General Fund each year.
School districts receive about 64 percent of all property tax revenue collected, while the county government gets about 26 percent.
The county’s budget for the fiscal year that ends on June 30 anticipates a total of nearly $25 million in secured and unsecured property tax revenues, compared to just under $10 million from both sales and tourism taxes combined.
Due to the COVID-19 emergency, California extended the deadline for filing state income tax returns from April 15 to June 15 and the Trump administration extended the deadline for filing federal returns from April 15 to July 15.
Birtwhistle explained that those deadlines can be extended without as much of an impact because they’re essentially just a year-end reconciliation of what a person has made and most of the income tax revenue has already been received by the government.
“It’s difficult right now for everybody, and the county’s got to keep these critical, essential services like public safety, health department, sheriff’s department and ambulances running, especially now,” he said.
To encourage social distancing, payments can be made online at https://www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov/217/Treasurer-Tax-Collectors-Office, over the phone by calling 866-513-9216, or sent through U.S. Mail.
A window at the Tax Collector’s Office, 2 S. Green St. in Sonora, is also open to pay in person from 8 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, or there’s drop-box in front of the building to submit payments until 5 p.m. each day.
Payments submitted via U.S. Mail must be postmarked before midnight on April 10. People paying online through their bank are also encouraged to give enough time for processing.
People who are unable to pay on time due to illness or quarantine can submit a request to cancel their late penalty, but the tax collector does not have the ability to cancel them due to financial hardship or when paying on time was generally possible through some method.
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 768-5175.