“Don’t play the float.”
That was the advice of Warwick Tax Assessor and Collector Ken Mallette this week and, if everything goes according to plan, taxpayers shouldn’t be counting on delays in processing their tax payments. So, make sure the money’s there in the bank. Don’t think the check will “float” in the bureaucracy until you have enough in the bank to cover it.
For the first time, the city has contracted for immediate deposit of tax payments so funds are instantly available for city use. People writing checks won’t be waiting for months for checks to be processed. The system is called a “lock box” and it will be operated by Fidelity under an agreement between the city and Citizens Bank.
The actual processing of payments will take longer, as city crews apply payments to individual accounts. With an estimated 90,000 residential, commercial, motor vehicle and tangible tax bills going into the mail this week, applying payments is a daunting task that will take weeks, if not months, to complete.
What’s to be remembered, however, is that the city will be looking for your money as soon as it gets your check. So be certain the money is there or else you will face overdraft costs on top of taxes … a double whammy.
Mallette also offered some additional advice; be sure to include your tax account number on your check to ease processing. And, if you have tax payments automatically deducted from your bank account, use your tax account number, not your bank account number.
Why the rush for payments?
The answer is threefold: efficiency, dependability and money.
Eliminating the delay between the receipt and the deposit of tax payments will make for a more efficient process and eliminate the hundreds of calls the city gets from taxpayers wondering if their payments have been received when they discover their checks haven’t cleared that month. Answering those questions is a lot of waited time for city employees. Now taxpayers can depend on their payments being promptly deposited.
Money also comes into the picture. While the city has $8.2 million in reserves and is not likely to fall short because of delays in processing, having the money as soon as possible makes for good planning, maybe even a little extra in the form of interest on deposits.