Real estate tax payments online in Memphis

Expanding on its telephone payment system, the city of Memphis, Tenn., will soon offer residents the option of paying real estate taxes online using a major credit card.

Treasurer Joseph Lee III said that the city's World Wide Web site (www.ci.memphis.tn.us) would be linked within the next few days to Official Payments Corp.'s Web site (www.officialpayments.com), a company that offers electronic payment services.

"I see it as a natural progression to give another alternative to taxpayers," Lee said.

Official Payments will charge residents a convenience fee, based on the amount of the payment. For example, on a bill of $950, a resident will pay a $25 convenience fee, and on a bill of $1,400, the convenience fee is $49.

The convenience fee represents the cost that Official Payments must pay to credit card companies, as well as money taken for a profit. The sliding scale is online at the company's Web site.

Lee said the city is also working on establishing a function on the Web site to allow citizens to pay by check. If given the choice, Lee said, he'd pay by check because of the fee.

The city, which collects $250 million per year in real estate taxes, also has a contract with Official Payments for the telephone service, which allows residents to call a toll free number to pay by credit card.

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