Timetable for Tax Collection
In Winston County, taxes are collected on the following schedule for the year that ended on September 30:
- October 1 - Taxes Due
- December 31 - Last day to pay taxes prior to late fees added (To keep from paying late fees, taxes are due and must be postmarked on December 31st.)
- January 1 - Taxes Delinquent (fees added)
- February - Citation Issued (fees added)
- March - Certified letters (fees added)
- April - Advertised(fees added)
- May - Tax Sale
Paying Your Taxes
Taxes are due every year the first of October and are delinquent after the 31st of December. Payment may be made as follows:
1.) You may come to the Revenue Commissioner's Office at the courthouse and make payment in person by cash, check, money order, credit card, or debit card.
2.) You may pay by mail with check or money order. Please write check to Winston County Revenue Commissioner and mail to P.O. Box 160 Double Springs, Al. 35553.
3.) You may pay online and a convenience fee will be applied. The online payment feature allows you to pay using your Credit Card or Debit Card.
Property (ad valorem) taxes are taxed on real and/or business personal property. Real property includes land and improvements. An improvement is defined as anything that adds value to real property such as a house, manufactured home, swimming pool, chicken house, barn, etc.
Business Personal Property
Business personal property refers to items which are used in any business and are movable or not permanently fixed to the land.
All persons, corporations, partnerships, etc. owning business personal property, aircraft, commercial mobile or portable units are subject to ad valorem tax. The property must be listed and assessed in the Revenue Commissioner's Office after October 1, but no later than December 31 each year. Failure to make an assessment by the 3rd Monday in January will result in a 10% penalty and fees being added to the tax bill. All business personal property is appraised by the County Revenue Commissioner for taxes, based on the cost new and allowance for depreciation due to age.
The Alabama Manufactured Home Act (91-694), signed into law July 18, 1991, changed the way manufactured homes are treated for tax and revenue purposes in Alabama. Under the Act those manufactured homes located on the owner's property and not held for rent or lease will be assessed on the real property tax rolls in the Revenue Commissioner's Office. All others must be registered. Proof of ownership, along with a description that includes size, ID number, year made and model of the manufactured home should be brought to the Revenue Commissioner's Office to make an assessment. The owner will receive a decal to display on the right front corner as proof that the taxes are paid. A homestead exemption may be claimed if you own the manufactured home, the property and live there as your principle residence as of October I. Proof of title (20 years or newer model) and that sales tax has been paid must be provided at time of assessment/registration. All manufactured homes must be registered or assessed within 30 calendar days of purchase. Renewal of manufactured home registrations is October/November each year. There is a $10.00 penalty for late registration. Persons over 65 or permanently and totally disabled should request exemption information prior to registration/renewal.
Responsibility for assessing property (telling the revenue commissioner you have bought property and what it is used for) lies with the owner to see that all the necessary steps have been completed. As a minimum the following steps should be done:
- Record your deed in Probate Office.
- Assess the property in Revenue Commissioner's Office.
- Claim any exemption due you. Make sure all of this is done not later than December 31 for all property purchased by October 1. Please report promptly all address changes.
- Make sure the taxes are current and paid on the purchased property.
Each taxpayer is required by Alabama Law (Code 40-7-1) to provide a complete list of all their owned property. The person acquiring property is responsible for reporting to the Revenue Commissioner a complete legal description of the property and should at the time claim any exemptions for which he or she is eligible. The Revenue Commissioner should be furnished a correct mailing address for all properties. The property owner must report any changes in ownership to the Revenue Commissioner.
All assessments as of October 1 of each year are due and payable the following October 1. Real and personal property taxes are paid in arrears. Taxes on motor vehicles are paid forward and are paid throughout the year based upon the first letter of your last name.
The Revenue Commissioner is responsible for determining property value, which must, by law, be set according to "fair and reasonable market value." Your property is probably not for sale but the county appraiser must set the value of the property as if it were "sold" in an "arms length" transaction between a "willing buyer and a willing seller," neither being under any pressure to buy or sell. If you feel your property value is incorrect you may file a written protest with the Winston County Board of Equalization. Upon your appeal, if time permits, you will be contacted by the county appraiser to review your valuation. If, after this review, you are still not satisfied with your valuation, a hearing will be set for you to formally meet with the Board of Equalization to present information you feel justifies a change in value. Following this hearing you will be notified of the decision of the Board of Equalization. You may appeal to Circuit Court within 30 days of their decision. In order to preserve your right to carry the appeal process to Circuit Court, taxes must be paid by December 31, or a bond filed in Circuit Court in double the amount of taxes due.
|Class I - Property Owned by Utilities
|Class II All Other Property
|Class III Agricultural Property
|Class IV Private Passenger Vehicles
Adding or Removing Improvements
Improvements are defined as "anything that adds value to land"(house, manufactured home, swimming pool, garage, chicken house, barn, etc.).
The law requires that owners, or their agent, must come to the Revenue Commissioner's Office no later than December 31 to sign a new assessment officially reporting any improvements made to or any removal of structures or features from their property, on or before October 1 of that year. Examples of improvements that are assessable would include new structures or additions, swimming pools, extensive repairs, remodeling, or renovations; adding a fireplace, extra bath, patio, deck, carport, garage, etc. However such things as re-roofing, minor repairs and painting, (normal maintenance type items), would not require a reassessment.
A Homestead Exemption is a tax break a property owner may be entitled to if he or she owns a single-family residence and occupies it as their primary residence on the first day of the tax year (Oct. 1) for which they are applying. A Homestead must be requested at the Revenue Commissioner's office, it is not automatic. The following are the four types of Homestead Exemptions:
- Regular Homestead 1 is available to all citizens of Alabama who own and occupy a single-family residence; including manufactured homes, as their primary residence and use this property for no other purposes. The amount of the exemption is $4,000.00 in assessed value for state taxes and $2,000.00 in assessed value for county taxes.
- Homestead Exemption 2 (ACT 91) is for persons over age 65 with an annual adjusted gross income of less than $12,000 on their most recent state income tax return. This exemption is for all State taxes and County taxes up to $5,000.00 in assessed value.
- Homestead Exemption 3 (ACT 48) is an exemption from all property taxes for persons over age 65 whose taxable income on their most recent Federal Tax Return was $12,000 or less or who are permanently and totally disabled. Proof of permanent and total disability can be the following: 2 physician letters stating you are permanently and totally disabled (One doctor must be currently treating you for the disability) or proof from one of the following: Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Private Company from which you are drawing a disability pension.
- Homestead Exemption 4 (ACT 91-B) is for persons over 65, regardless of income. This exemption is for the total assessed value of state tax and up to $2,000.00 of assessed value of county tax up to 160 acres.
Exemptions should be applied for before December 31 of each year based upon status (owner occupied, age 65 or totally and permanently disabled) of property and owner on October 1. Once you receive an exemption for disability or age you must claim this exemption each year. A notice will be mailed to you to make this claim; however it is your responsibility to make sure the claim is done each year. The exemption has to be removed if the claim is not made each year.
Current Use Exemption
Owners of 3 acres or more of farmland, pastureland or timberland that is producing agricultural products, livestock or wood products may apply for current use exemption. This exemption allows for property to be assessed at less than market value when used only for the purposes specified. Any owner of eligible property must make a formal application to the Revenue Commissioner's Office if he or she wishes to claim current use. The current use applications may be obtained from the Revenue Commissioner's Office at any time of the year, but under the law they must be filed with the Revenue Commissioner's Office no later than December 31, for it to apply in the following tax year. After current use has been granted, the owner who made application for current use does not have to re-apply for subsequent years. However, if the property ownership is transferred or the name has been changed by deed or will, the new owner will have to file an application for current use or his or her taxes will be based on fair market value rather than current use values.