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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

City of Meriden makes it easier to pay taxes online

As published in the Record Journal Tuesday July 9, 2013

By Dan Brechlin
Record-Journal staff
dbrechlin@recordjournal.com 
(203) 317-2266
Twitter: @DanBrechlinRJ

MERIDEN — City officials are making it simpler for residents to pay their taxes online in an effort to ease the burden on staff and save taxpayers time.

With property and car tax bills sent out at the end of June, the city has launched an online program on its website to help residents pay. Residents can search for their bill by their name, address or bill number and find out how much is owed.

“Using this is a lot easier for us,” said Michelle Kane, assistant tax collector. “People can see what they owe, pay the right amount and have it automatically applied...”

Kane explained that in the past, the city could take payments over the Internet, but residents needed to know the exact amount they were paying and the bill number. Often, people would not know and would have to call the Tax Collection office for information.

“I had a taxpayer in the (military) service stationed over in Germany emailing me for a while asking when this information would be online so he can look it up online,” Kane explained. “So there should be a lot of instances where it will be helpful.”

Once residents find out how much is owed, they can place it into a “cart,” as if they were shopping online, and then pay via credit cards or online check. There is a fee of 95 cents for online checks, and a 2.95 percent fee for paying with credit cards. A confirmation email is sent to users once a payment is made, Kane said.

In addition to helping residents paying their taxes in the short term, Finance Director Michael Lupkas said the city is looking to make things easier and more efficient in the long run. When city staff finishes expanding the capabilities of the new payment system, residents can be notified via email that a payment is owed. “In the long run, it should save money for city and we will be able to eliminate the mailing of bills for those who want it,” Lupkas said. “It’s kind of a convenience feature and a more transparent thing for people.”

Another feature will be the ability to schedule payments, Lupkas said. Rather than getting a bill and having to pay it all at once, Lupkas said it would be possible to break up payments to ease the burden on taxpayers.

“It’s a nice convenience,” he said. “If an elderly person on a fixed income knows they owe... they can pay $100 every month rather than having to pay $1,200 all at once if that is their bill. It’s better to work into a person’s budget.”

Kane said the automated payments are something that people have been asking about, especially senior citizens. It will be possible through the city’s contractor, Invoice Cloud.

“That feature is not available yet,” Kane said, “but with the new company we are using for this, it will be. It’s something we know taxpayers have been looking for.”

The online tax feature is available on the city’s website at www.meridenct.gov.

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