By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

Property taxes are typically due at the end of January, but taxpayers will get an extra day this year.

Local taxpayers in Orange County will get an added to to submit tax payments this year as property taxes, which are normally due on Jan. 31, will be due on Monday, Feb. 1 instead as the 31st is on a weekend. Payments can be made on Monday, Feb. 1, without penalty and interest.

“To avoid late fees, people should come in as soon as possible,” said Lynda Gunstream, Orange County Tax Assessor – Collector. “The sooner the better because this Friday and Monday (Feb. 1) will be extremely busy. The penalty increases by a total of seven percent, with six percent being penalty and one percent interest.”

According to Gunstream, the Feb. 1 postmark is crucial for those who are submitting payments via mail through the U.S. Postal Service. Taxypayers should be aware of the last pick-up times at each Post Office or, better yet, have a clerk personally stamp the mailpiece inside the Post Office.

Payments can be made at the tax offices located inside the Orange County Courthouse Annex at 123 S. Sixth St. in Orange and at the Vidor Tax Office at 155 Wilson St. in Vidor. Each location has a drop box located outside its front entrance, which are available for payments being made after business hours.

Payments can also be made online at www.co.orange.tx.us/taxoffice and then by clicking “Tax Records and Tax Payments Online.” However, the credit card service provider charges a fee of 2.5 percent of the total tax payment or $1.50 if paid by E-Check.

Property taxes are used to help fund numerous services and need throughout the state of Texas since it is the largest source of funding, as the state does not have an income tax.

According to Texas Gulf Coast Online, property taxes provide more tax dollars for local services in Texas than any other source.

Property taxes are utilized for things such as funding public schools and some community colleges, as well as city streets and county roads. These funds can also be used to help fund police and fire protection in many instances.

Property taxes are local taxes which are determined by local officials who value your property and set the tax rates.

Also, according to Gunstream’s office, taxpayers who qualify under the homestead exemption for those ages 65 and older or are disabled or area  disabled veteran or their surviving spouse, are eligible to set-up a tax payment plan in four equal payments.

“We just want to remind people that taxes are due and not to wait until the last minute,” Gunstream said. “Sooner is always better because the penalty and interest increases every month your tax payment is late.”

For more information or questions, call the Orange County Tax Assessor – Collector’s Office at 409-882-7971 or 409-769-0064.