Even before the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, the Duval County Tax Collector’s Office began seeing the trend of customers completing their transactions online instead of in person.
“We have been trying to put more business on the internet and out of the office. We look for ways to drive e-government. That’s the goal,” said Tax Collector Jim Overton.
The move makes it easier for the public, including executives and entrepreneurs, to process their business online, saving time from visiting a Tax Collector’s office. And there will be more services moving in that direction.
When COVID-19 forced quarantines, isolation and social distancing, the business of the tax collector had to be done, despite the challenges, Overton said.
“We never really shut down for the pandemic,” he said.
The internet allows convenient access for members of the public when they have to complete a transaction with the tax collector.
That’s particularly true for the transactions people have to conduct every year, such as renewing vehicle registrations and paying property taxes.
“Our DMV (state Department of Motor Vehicles) transactions online have almost doubled. We are retraining customers that there are better ways to do business with government,” Overton said.
Online property tax payments also are growing, from nearly 55,000 in 2019, the year before the pandemic, to more than 68,000 in 2020 and more than 82,000 in 2021.
Another technological advance just beginning is vehicle registration renewal kiosks at three Publix Super Markets Inc. stores.
Inside the Deerwood Commons, Mandarin Oaks and Roosevelt Square shopping center stores, the kiosks operate like an ATM.
Customers enter their information from the renewal notice, make the payment and the kiosk dispenses the new decal.
Overton said if the kiosks are popular more locations could be added.
The trend toward online transactions also will affect real estate plans for the tax collector’s office.
Overton said a new branch office is being planned in North Jacksonville. Based on the continuing growth of web-based business, it is being designed with fewer seats in a smaller waiting room than at current branches.
“It’s an internet-based world and people are doing a lot more online. We think that will continue to trend upward.”
The next stage, expected to be in place by midyear, is an artificial intelligence-based system that will be able to answer common questions online.
“If the bot can’t answer the question, then we’ll connect you to a customer service representative or you’ll be able to get the answer by email,” Overton said.
Visit taxcollector.coj.net for more information about online transactions and other services available at the tax collector’s offices.
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