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Clarkston to set up online tax payments



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August 22, 2012 - Soon citizens in the City of the Village of Clarkston may be able to pay their taxes without leaving home. Currently, taxpayers must use cash or check either via mail or by walking up to the counter in the Village Hall to cover their balance.

Possibly by December, "someone can go online and make their payment to the county," said City Manager Dennis Ritter. "The city has wanted to have procedures of this nature for sometime" because several citizens have called in requesting an online payment option, Ritter said.

Those paying online could set up automatic bank account withdrawal for their biannual tax payments. People will still be ale to pay through the mail or in person.

Instituting cyber payment options won't cost the city anything, said Ritter. On the other hand, those using a credit card could incur "a modest fee," he noted. Despite the additional cost for paying with a credit card, Ritter believes online bill pay "will be popular eventually."

Independence Township residents already pay online, which "provides convenience and flexibility to residents" and allows the township to reduce staffing because fewer people come to the counter to pay their bills, said Treasurer Curt Carson.

The township's system as it currently stands has taken some tweaking since its inception, however. Since beginning online bill pay, Carson has worked to reduce the credit card fee. "When I took office, we accepted Mastercard and Visa only at a cost of 3 percent of the total amount to the resident," he said. Carson has since expanded the credit cards the township can accept to include Discover and American Express and negotiated the rates, which are now at 2.5 percent of the total amount.

Not only have fees needed reducing, but the accessibility and user-friendliness of online tax payment had to improve too. Today, as soon as users open the township's website, they see a place to pay their taxes at the bottom of the screen. After increasing the accessibility of the site and decreasing the credit card fee rates, Carson says the township has seen a large increase in people paying their taxes online.

While the city may adopt an online payment option, they will likely need to work out kinks in the system before all is running smoothly. Attend the next City Council meeting on August 27 at 7 p.m. in Village Hall for more information.

Clarkston News reporter
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