JeffCo Commission Debates Allowing Residents to Apply Online for Some Tax Exemptions

Jefferson County Tax Assessor Gaynell Hendricks. (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

The days of Jefferson County residents having to go to the courthouse to file for disability or tax exemptions will be over if commissioners pass a resolution from the tax assessor for online exemptions.

Tax Assessor Gaynell Hendricks asked commissioners at their committee meeting Wednesday to pay $405,000 for the E-Ring Online Exemption module. It is an extension of the Citizen Access Module and would let taxpayers file for exemptions online.

“The biggest convenience is they won’t have to come to the office,” she said. “It will be fast, easy, at their leisure. We can assure accuracy that way as well.”

Hendricks recounted having seen citizens struggle to go to the courthouse to file for exemptions.

“If you have a person who is applying for disability, he could be blind or unable to walk,” she said. “I’ve seen them struggling to come in to apply for disability. I’ve seen parents come in with two, three or four children, waiting to file paperwork for their homestead exemption. Certainly, this will be of use to them not having to make the trip downtown.”

“This is another example of what we wanted to do when we came out of bankruptcy,” Commission President Jimmie Stephens said after the meeting. “We wanted to create a less labor-intensive government, where it was more technology based. And it’s more convenient for the citizens.”

Hendricks called the action, which will be on the agenda for Thursday’s commission meeting, a terrific game-changer for Alabama. She added that forms can be scanned and submitted electronically.

“We are the largest county in the state and we’ll be the first county to have this service,” she said. “I expect other counties will probably follow suit. It is appropriate for Jefferson County to be on the cutting edge.”

The tax assessor said the program should be up and running within a couple of weeks of the commission passing the action. She added her desire to have a computer in the tax assessor’s office so staffers can walk citizens through the process so they don’t have to return.

Hendricks also noted that seniors age 65 and older have until Dec. 31 to file for their tax exemptions

“In the future, hopefully you’ll be able to do that online as well,” she said.