Thanks to improved technology, more Richland County residents are avoiding standing in long lines to pay their taxes.
Working with the offices of the County Auditor and Treasurer, the Business Systems Division of Richland County Information Technology developed a way to pay taxes using QR (quick response) bar codes in 2013. The codes give taxpayers a convenient outlet to handle payments online.
QR codes have been included on vehicle tax notices for several years, but the County has since extended their use to notices for personal property, real estate and businesses. As of November 2018, all County tax notices include a QR code.
By simply using the QR reader on their smart device to scan or snap the code on their tax notice, taxpayers are directed to the Treasurer’s online bill payment page. Many smart devices allow users to simply pull up their camera and hover over a QR code to instantly read it, while other devices require an outside app.
“We always want people to have the most convenient options in how they can best meet their tax obligations,” Richland County Treasurer David Adams said. “We are growing with technology, and we’ll continue to do so, to make working with Richland County as easy as possible.”
About 1,500 County taxpayers have paid their bills on smart devices annually using the QR technology since 2016. The number of taxpayers using the QR codes has now risen to about 200 monthly, which translates to a projected 2,400 taxpayers for 2019.
As of July, Richland County had collected more than $3 million using the QR code system, with more than $1 million of that since November 2018.
“Government is at its best when it serves citizens in an effective and efficient way,” Richland County Auditor Paul Brawley said. “The QR code on Richland County tax bills is a perfect example of how the Auditor’s Office is working to make tax information more accessible to taxpayers from any location using the internet. It is an efficient and effective way to better serve Richland County taxpayers and allows them to use technology to pay their taxes.”
Richland County IT continues to find new ways to implement this and similar technology for residents’ convenience:
- The wall outside the Auditor’s counter, located at the Richland County office at 2020 Hampton St., features a QR code that residents can use to receive a current tax notice. They can simply snap the QR code, enter their property identification number and get the tax notice on their smart device.
- This year, for the first time, a QR code is included on property tax reassessment notices. When scanned, the code brings up a webpage that gives users an estimate of their tax bill.
- A similar two-dimensional scanning system is in use at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. That technology can scan the barcode on a South Carolina driver’s license to extract the individual’s name for the jail site access log, which holds data on individuals visiting the jail.
“Genius in innovation is making the complex simple, not in making the simple complex,” said Business Systems Division Chief Steve Collins. “This project exemplifies IT and the Auditor/Treasurer offices using a simple idea to great effect.”