Local property owners should have received assessment forms in the mail last week. The forms were sent to those who returned one last year.
Anyone who owned real estate, vehicles or other taxable personal or business property in Morgan County on July 1 and has not received a form, should call the Morgan County Assessor's Office at 258-8570.
The forms must be returned to the Assessor's Office by October 1.
"It is really important," said Assessor John Allen Swaim. He noted that penalties from $25 to $100 can be imposed when the form is not returned by the deadline.
The assessor's staff will help taxpayers fill out the forms during regular courthouse hours. Dog fees may also be paid at the Assessor's Office.
The information provided by property owners will form the basis for the property tax bills that will go out in July, 2008.
This year's mailing also includes a letter from Swaim asking for residents' help in reporting people who do not have their cars registered in West Virginia.
New residents are supposed to register cars in the state within 30 days, but often do not. In turn, the vehicles usually are not reported as taxable personal property.
In the real estate section of the assessment form, taxpayers should show whether their property is owner occupied, rented or unoccupied. If a property is rented, the renter's name should be listed.
Those who rent and do not own their home should give their landlord's name, Swaim said.
Other real estate information will be taken from the most recent property appraisals and from land records of who owned the property as of July 1, 2007.
Vehicles & personal property
Citizens should fill out the sections of the assessment form relating to motor vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and other taxable personal and business property that they owned as of July 1.
Vehicles, like all other property in West Virginia, are assessed at 60% of their market value. The Assessor's Office bases the taxable value on current Blue Book prices.
Vehicles may be taxable even if they aren't licensed in West Virginia, Swaim said. Vehicles are taxable if they have been in the state for more than 30 days, unless the owner can prove taxes were paid in another state.
In some cases, people on active military duty may be able to exempt a vehicle from local property taxes. Contact the Assessor's Office for information.
Business owners should include the value of inventory, equipment and business fixtures on their assessment forms, Swaim said.
The value of business inventory is its market value, not the cost of materials, he said.
Those who consign art work or other goods to shops are responsible for reporting it as their own inventory, Swaim said.
Dog owners should fill out the section of the assessment form about their pets and should send payment for dog tags as soon as possible.
The dog fee is $3 per dog in unincorporated Morgan County, and $6 per dog within the towns of Bath and Paw Paw.
Pet owners are also reminded that under West Virginia law, dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies. In addition, Morgan County has a local ordinance requiring that dogs be leashed or under voice control when not on their owner's property.
Older county residents may apply for the Homestead Exemption from part of the property tax on their residence.
The Homestead Exemption reduces the tax on the homes of senior citizens and disabled persons. More than $200 in taxes can be saved since $20,000 of a home's assessed value is exempted from taxation.
To qualify for the Homestead Exemption on next summer's property tax bill, a homeowner must be at least 65 years old by June 30, 2008, or be disabled, and must have lived in West Virginia since at least July 1, 2006.
Application for the Homestead Exemption on next year's taxes must be made to the Assessor's Office before December 3.
Applications for farmland tax classification are due by September 4 at the Assessor's Office.
Farm classification significantly reduces the amount of property tax paid on land that is used for agricultural purposes.
Farm equipment and livestock are no longer taxable for those classified as farms.
Tax bills soon
The Morgan County Sheriff's Department expects to mail out this year's tax bills later this month. They will go out a little later than usual due to the addition of the $75-per-household ambulance fee.
In addition to imposing the ambulance fee, the Morgan County Commissioners also upped the fire fee this year.