Two Tax Bills a Year Versus Four Tax Bills a Year

The Town of Halifax issues property tax bills twice a year rather than four times a year.

There are several reasons why:

1) The treasurer-collector’s office would have to process four bills each year instead of two. That would require adding a significant number of hours of staff time (and increase the cost of processing the bills)

2) The first two bills in a quarterly bill system are due on August 1 and October 1 and are “approximate” tax bills based on the previous year’s property valuations, budget, taxes, etc. The bills for February 1 and May 1 are then adjusted based on the actual valuations, budget, etc. for the fiscal year. I suspect the assessor and/or treasurer/collector would receive plenty of calls, etc. asking why the third and fourth tax bills are different than the first and second.

3) With the changes in the financial procedures and policies, the need for a steady cash flow from property taxes has decreased. It has been a number of years since the Town needed to borrow on a short term basis to ensure that it had enough money to pay its bills.

4) The additional interest paid by the bank to the Town generated from an earlier collection date is minimal given the low interest rates these days.

5) Some residents might object to paying taxes earlier than they have to under the present procedures.

All that said, if a resident wanted to pay taxes early, then the resident could take the most recent tax bill, divide it in half so that it would equal 25% of the total, and pay that amount this coming February 1, 2021 and then the other 25% on May 1, 2021. On August 1, 2021 (the date when a first quarter bill would be due), the resident could then pay 25% of the total tax bill for Fiscal Year 2021 and then adjust the payment on November 1, 2021 to ensure that the two payments (August 1, 2021 and November 1, 2021) equaled 50% of the bill for Fiscal Year 2022.

If a group of residents wanted the Town to implement quarterly tax bills for everyone, they could bring a petition article to Town Meeting to do so. It would take just ten signatures to have it on the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting in May. If someone wants me to write up the article and send it to that person so that person can gather signatures, please contact me and I’ll send it out when I go back to work.