County clerks may not demand or receive any fees or compensation not specified by law (T.C.A. § 8‑21‑101), and may not receive any authorized fees until the duty or service for which the fee is granted has been performed, unless specifically allowed by law. T.C.A. § 8-21-102. A county clerk who demands or receives fees higher than those prescribed by law may be liable to the party charged in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00), and is also guilty of a misdemeanor. T.C.A. § 8-21-103. It is the duty of the courts to decide, upon application by the county clerk, any question arising under law and such decision will protect the county clerk acting pursuant to the decision. T.C.A. § 8-21-105.
County clerks should always check the current statutes to confirm the correct amount of fees to be charged. The general fee statute (T.C.A. § 8-21-701) for the county clerk provides the fees for issuance of marriage licenses, transferring business licenses, certifying a notary public's election, recording official bonds, receiving and paying over revenue, for copies and certified copies of documents, and other fees.
In addition to the fees set out in the county clerk’s fee statute above, the county clerk may be entitled to other fees for specific duties the clerk performs. The fees associated with the county clerk’s duties in motor vehicle titling and registration are set out in Title 55, Chapters 4 and 6 of the Tennessee Code Annotated, and the current amounts of these fees may be obtained from the State Department of Revenue’s Taxpayer and Vehicle Services Division (Vehicle Services Section). Fees associated with issuance of business licenses are found in Title 67, Chapter 4, Part 7. There are other fees set out in other parts of the Tennessee Code Annotated for miscellaneous duties the clerk may perform, such as issuing hunting and fishing licenses.
The county clerk is not entitled to any fees for certificates and seals in the application for pension and pensioners’ money, or upon powers of attorney for that purpose and the taking or receiving of fees in any such cases shall be a misdemeanor. T.C.A. § 8-21-703. A county clerk who also acts as a clerk of court is authorized to demand and receive the same fees as the other court clerks when performing court clerk’s duties. These fees are set forth in T.C.A. § 8-21-401 et seq. County clerks acting as court clerks also collect the applicable sheriff’s fees.T.C.A. § 8-21-901 et seq. Any county clerk with court clerk duties can take additional training courses with regard to those court clerk duties by taking training courses designed for clerks of court.
County clerks are prohibited from requiring or encouraging persons who pay by personal check to make the check out to any individual in his or her personal capacity. All checks received by the county clerk should be made out in the name of the appropriate governmental entity or to the county clerk’s office, or in the name of the county clerk in his or her official capacity. T.C.A. § 9-1-117.
All county officials, including county clerks, are authorized to accept payment by credit card or debit card for any public taxes, licenses, fines, fees or other monies collected. Beginning June 7, 2001, the county legislative body may waive the processing fee that otherwise would be added to the amount collected when payment is made using a credit or debit card. T.C.A. § 9-1-108. The credit card numbers and related personal identification numbers are confidential records. T.C.A. § 10-7-504.
County clerks are required to adopt a policy for handling refunds of amounts overpaid, which must include one or more of the following: contacting the person or entity tendering the payment for specific instructions for handling the excess amount; allowing the county clerk's office to retain reasonable overage amounts as fees of the office; or providing a refund of the excess money less a reasonable amount retained as fees of the office. T.C.A. 8-21-701.