The government tried to give away money in the form of unclaimed tax exemptions Saturday instead of taking away dollars from discerning citizens.
About 100 people attended the five-hour Tax Relief Conference at the Augusta State University Athletic Complex, with some people lined up at the door before the event began at 9 a.m., Richmond County Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick said.
“We’re here to serve a public who’s struggling; who need every dime they can find,” Kendrick said. “Just because you don’t know the complete information, it’s just unfair in my eyes to not give you that opportunity.”
With an Augusta-Richmond County property tax statement in hand, Sandra Pigler wanted to know whether her elderly mother received the lowest tax rate possible. Pigler talked to a representative from the tax assessor’s office.
“In this economy, you’re always looking to hold on to as much of your money as you can,” Pigler said.
Despite leaving the event with an unchanged assessment value, Pigler felt satisfied after receiving more information from county representatives.
“Having accessible information as to how rates were determined leaves me less dissatisfied with how much of my fixed income has to be allocated,” Pigler said. “In the end, I’m happy the county makes this accessible to me; to ask these questions face to face.”
Many elderly and disabled residents asked questions about exemptions and assessments. Some people over age 65 found out they qualify for a school tax exemption that can save them $750 on next year’s bill, Kendrick said.
“The money we’re saving these folks in the big scheme of things is actually small, but to them it could mean paying someone’s college tuition or buying groceries,” he said.
Others had concerns that they couldn’t afford to pay taxes, which could jeopardize their house, Kendrick said.
Rose White, 64, waited in line with her tax notice and a brochure describing several exemptions. She planned to ask the representative how she could qualify for the school exemption next year when she turns 65.
“I pay very close attention ’cause I don’t want to pay more than I’m supposed to,” White said. “I expect the money I pay to be used wisely.”
About 10 people showed interest in the processing forms and registration process for foreclosure auctions held on the courthouse steps, said Kenneth Pressley, a levy officer.
People are looking to buy homes at an auction as investments, he said.