Taxes Fund Necessary Services and Programs
By Rachel Moore
Delta Digital News Service
JONESBORO – As tax season approaches, citizens should be concerned with more than income taxes. From Jan. 1 to May 31, all Craighead County residents must have their personal property manually assessed. This includes vehicles, boats, trailers, camping trailers, tractors and airplanes.
“There is also business personal property, which is all of the assets not affixed to the physical structure of the building that are used in the regular course of business. For example, a hair salon should turn in items such as salon chairs, mirrors, drying stations, scissors, waiting area furniture, mobile stations, office supplies, a computer,” said Hannah Towell, Craighead County’s tax assessor.
Towell’s duties include appraising and assessing all personal property. She determines a property’s assessment by taking 20 percent of the market value and then multiplying that number by that person’s school district millage.
“In 2016, the collector’s office collected $66,823,765.58,” said Wes Eddington, the Craighead County tax collector. His office works alongside Towell’s in order to sort and obtain local taxes.
While most citizens know they must pay their taxes every year, not all of them know what programs the taxes fund.
“I just know I need to pay them to avoid legal trouble. I don’t really know anything about what it funds,” said Brigitte Schwartz, a hairdresser currently residing in Jonesboro.
Local taxes fund governmental operations such as the county courthouse and public schools. According to CraigheadAssessor.com, nearly 75 percent of the money goes to schools in the area. Some of the money also goes to the quorum court, county judge, mayor and City Council.
“Also, improvements such as drainage districts, timber, fire districts, city liens, mineral rights and other interests can be legally added to the tax books for collection by this office and there may be a set fee or it may be calculated differently,” Eddington said.
Overall, taxes fund services crucial to the county. Without them, over 100,000 people in the area would not be able to live as they do. But legal punishments exist for those who fail to follow local tax guidelines. This can include monetary penalties that accumulate over time.
It’s important to note real estate taxes are handled differently than property taxes.
“Real Estate is appraised on a five-year cycle. Once every five years, we re-evaluate all of the real property — houses, farm land, commercial buildings — in Craighead County,” Towell said.
The county’s five-year cycle is ending, so officials are currently compiling data that they will use to determine the current fair-market value of everyone’s real property.
Tax assessment and collection can become complicated. So for more information about personal property and real estate taxes, visit the Craighead County courthouse in Lake City at 107 Cobean Blvd. in Lake City, Arkansas, or the Jonesboro courthouse at 511 S. Main Street.