streamlined tax bills save time, money

Beginning this year, residents will have one less bill to keep track of. A redesigned real estate tax bill combines municipal and school district bills on one form.

New tax office software is another time and money saver. About a quarter of the approximately 12,000 bills the tax office sends out each year are emailed, but the office’s previous software required all of the bills to be printed.

“With the old software we had, we couldn’t separate out the ones that weren’t going to be mailed. We had to do it by hand,” says Mt. Lebanon Treasury Manager Mary Abbott. “Now we don’t even have to print the ones that are emailed.”

Also, last year the treasurer’s office changed vendors for processing online real estate tax payments, which reduced the fee for credit card payments by about one-half of a percent and also enabled the office to begin accepting e-checks for $1.95 per transaction. Online real estate tax payments almost doubled from 2015 to 2016.

In addition to collecting taxes, the treasurer’s office is responsible for collecting the lion’s share of all municipal funds, including parking revenues.

One thing the office does not collect is earned income tax (EIT). Since 2012, Pennsylvania has shifted the responsibility of collecting EIT from local government to tax collection districts, one for each county, except for Allegheny County, which has four districts, and Philadelphia County, which is exempt from the regulation.

Abbott chairs the Allegheny County Southwest Tax Collection Committee, which coordinates the operations in our local tax collection district. While she admits the change was met with some trepidation from municipal tax collectors, she says the collector for the southwest district, Jordan Tax Services, has done an excellent job.

“We fought it (the change), but I think it works well,” she says. “People may not be as happy as they were when we were the ones collecting the taxes, but still, overall we get very few complaints.”