June 26, 2015

Tax Collector / Assessor

Tax Collector / Assessor

Online Property Tax Information:

Please click here to view online online property tax information. Please note information is uploaded to the server on a frequent basis, but the data may not match actual activity at the courthouse.

Please click here to view tax information found on the Mississippi Department of Revenue website.

Tax Collector Duties and Responsibilities:

The Tax Collector is responsible for the collection of taxes on real property, personal property, manufactured homes, automobiles, motorcycles, motor homes, trailers, and airplanes. Statute allows the payment of real property taxes in installments as long as the first payment is at least one-half of the taxes due and is made by February 1st following the tax year for which payment is collected. Installment payments are subject to 1% per month interest on the unpaid balance for the second and third payments.

Use tax is collected on items brought to the State of Mississippi by residents for first use, storage, or consumption. Sales Tax is collected on casual sales of motor vehicles between individuals.

The Tax Collector must advertise and hold a tax sale once a year for any unpaid taxes on real estate or any special assessments. Accurate records must be kept at all times, since this office is involved in the collection of taxes that help fund a variety of government services.

Tax Assessor Duties and Responsibilities:

The county tax assessor must, by personal inspection and examination, gather and record any and all available data and information bearing upon the location, number, amount, kind, and value of any and all property and persons the office is required by law to assess.

It is hard to overstate the importance of assessors to the administration of the property tax and indirectly, the vitality of local governments. As the basis of assessed values, appraised values determine the distribution of property tax levies among taxpayers. In order for tax limits, debt limits, and the distribution of state aid to localities be as the legislature intended, the assessed values must be accurate. Boards of review and equalization can never fully correct poor initial assessments.

Another duty of the assessor is to inquire into the purchase price for any real or personal property and to ascertain and acquaint oneself with any sales or transfers of property of similar description or value made or affected in the vicinity, within the year or years next preceding the listing for assessment then being made. The price paid for property should be considered by the assessor in determining the value of property listed for assessment.

The tax assessor has the right, power, and authority to require an inspection of a property owner’s books, accounts, papers, memoranda, and records. From this inspection, the assessor can then make an estimate of the property value. The assessor may also question the owner, agent, or employees of the owner about the actual cash value of any property subject to assessment. The assessor has the right and power to inquire into and ascertain the insured value of any and all property, or into the value at which the property has been previously insured. This includes the amount of fire insurance carried on all stocks of merchandise or goods kept for use or sale, machinery, fixtures, and other property. If the assessor believes or has reason to believe the list of taxable property furnished by any person is incomplete or incorrect, or if any property has been undervalued, the assessor shall assess the same and add it to the assessment roll as its true value.

Many aspects of the assessor’s work are spelled out in statutes. The statutes also define value, list the information to be included on the assessment roll, and provide a timetable for completing various duties of the elected office.

The tax assessor’s duties are carried out within an administrative and political system that includes many other elected officers. The assessor works with the tax collector, who is responsible for preparing forms, computing tax bills, and collecting taxes. The tax assessor also works closely with the office of the chancery clerk. Through the chancery clerk’s office, the tax assessor’s office receives deeds that have been filed to transfer ownership of property. The tax assessor needs these deeds to assure the proper taxpayer is being assessed with the property owned by the taxpayer.

The State Tax Commission oversees the values that are produced by the assessor’s office. The Commission reviews the values by a means of ratio studies and audits of the appraisal files (as noted by statutes).

Real Property Assessment:

A real property assessment system organizes resources to carry out the primary assessment responsibilities of discovery, listing, and valuing properties in accordance with property tax statutes.

All responsibilities related to assessment are carried out within the assessor’s office. The responsibilities include supervision, handling appeals, appraisal review, and equalization.

Supervision describes a variety of oversight or coordination including fact-finding and analysis, providing appraisal tools and equipment, providing technical and professional services, education and certifying appraisal personnel, and enforcing laws, regulations, and standards.

Appeal refers to the process whereby a taxpayer may question the appraisal that has been placed on the property that he/she owns.

Appraisal review describes the examination of the appraised values by the assessor’s office. The office has the power to alter individual appraisals on its own initiative in order to correct clerical errors, assess previously omitted property, exempt property assessed in error, and correct appraisal inequities.

Equalization describes the process by which the assessor’s office makes adjustments to the total appraised value of the district or of classes of property within the district sothe total appraised values within the jurisdiction all bear the same relationship to the total market value.

Primary Tasks Performed:

The tax assessor must locate and identify all taxable property in the county. The primary tools used to locate taxable property are ownership maps, which plot every parcel of land within the county and are kept up to date with all deeds that are filed as of January 1 of each year. In the case of personal property used in a business, there are statutes that prescribe the administrative procedures to locate and identify such property. For example, the taxpayer is required to file a return listing taxable personal property with the assessor, who then audits the return.

The assessor also makes an inventory of the quantity, quality, and important characteristics of all taxable property. An inventory is essential to the assurance of taxation equity. In the assessing of real estate, a drawing is necessary to establish the size of improvements. Information used to appraise the property will be gathered at this time and notes will be taken as to the use of the property as well as the material used to construct the improvements.

The tax assessor’s office estimates the value of each taxable property as well. The office utilizes all appropriate appraisal techniques to estimate value and it is critical the estimation be carried out in a quality manner in order to ensure equitable distribution of the tax burden.

In addition, the tax assessor determines each property’s extent of taxability. To determine the extent, the assessor reviews legislation affecting the taxable status of properties and property owners within the county.

The tax assessor must also calculate the assessed value of each property. The assessor’s office applies the proper assessment ratio so the property assessment appears on the tax roll. The assessor determines the correct property class as prescribed by statute. Class 1 property entails single-family, owner-occupied residential property. Class 2 property includes all other real estate. Class 3 property is described as personal property in businesses.

Furthermore, the tax assessor prepares and certifies the assessment roll of the county. The assessor lists all properties and prints the roll in a form that satisfies all statutory requirements. The assessor must then prepare a certificate attesting to the sufficiency of the roll as well as compliance with the statutory provision for its preparation. The assessment roll is then presented to the Board of Supervisors by the statutory delivery date.

The tax assessor also must notify owners of the assessed values of their properties and defend the estimated values as well as the valuation methods during appeals by taxpayers. Assessment statutes provide taxpayers with the right to appeal their assessed values and the assessor’s office is open to taxpayers requesting a review of their property. At the time of a formal appeal, the assessor will be tasked to justify valuations to the Board of Supervisors and taxpayer.

In the State of Mississippi, assessment statutes require assessment rolls be prepared on annual basis since local property taxes are levied in such a manner. The rolls must be based on ownership as of January 1 of the assessment year.

Contact Information:

Van McWhirter
Tax Collector / Assessor
11 E. Washington St.
Pontotoc, MS 38863
Phone: (662) 489-3904
Fax: (662) 489-3917

The Appalachian Regional Commission provided grant funding to support the development of this website.