01/25/06 — County tax collection on track for '06

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County tax collection on track for '06

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 25, 2006 2:01 PM

Nearly 90 percent of Wayne County property tax bills for 2005 were paid by mid-January, tax officials said.

The deadline for paying taxes without penalty was Jan. 5. Two percent interest is added to the bill the first month payments are late. Additional interest of 0.75 percent is added each month thereafter.

"We're about where we expected to be," Tax Administrator David Ward said.

County officials say they hope to collect at least 97 percent of taxes owed for 2005 by the end of the budget year, which is June 30. Last year, the county had collected 96.65 percent of taxes owed by the end of the fiscal year, and County Manager Lee Smith has said he wants to improve on that rate.

Property tax collections generate about $39 million for county coffers. The county's total amount of taxable property is valued at $5.3 billion. Last year, the county Board of Commissioners increased the tax rate from 66 cents to 73.5 cents per $100 worth of property.

Property taxes on motor vehicles are collected periodically throughout the year. Interest on late payment of motor vehicle property taxes is 5 percent the first month and 0.75 percent per month thereafter.

Ward said state law gives the county several ways to collect taxes from delinquent taxpayers. The county can garnish wages, attach bank deposits or other accounts and even seize personal property or foreclose on real property. Tax bills are normally mailed in late summer or early fall. Many people choose to wait and pay nearer the deadline.

If they haven't paid by mid-February, then their names are included in a listing of delinquent taxpayers advertised in the News-Argus. State law permits counties to advertise tax liens beginning March 1, and Ward said his office will begin the process as soon as possible after that date.

Property owners are required to list personal property for taxation by Jan. 31. Failure to list will earn the property owner a 10-percent penalty. The 10-percent penalty is based on the eventual tax bill for the property.

Personal property, such as a home, boat or vehicle, and real estate, must be listed. Business personal property can include computers, furniture or machinery. Forms describing what property should be listed are available in the county Tax Department office on the first floor of the Wayne County Courthouse.

Real estate is automatically listed. But property owners who have made changes to real estate, such as adding a deck or room, must record the change or face the same penalty, Ward said.