12/28/06 — Local property taxes due January 5

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Local property taxes due January 5

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on December 28, 2006 1:46 PM

Even though Wayne County residents received their tax bills in August, many still choose to pay their property taxes just before the Jan. 5 deadline.

"I've been in this business a long time and I'm still surprised that people choose to pay at the last minute," Wayne County Tax Administrator David Ward said.

Long lines have been forming in recent days at the pay windows at the county Tax Office on the first floor of the courthouse on William Street.

Although about 60 percent of the county's property owners have already paid their taxes, Ward said today that it is pretty much the same story every year for the other 30 percent who pay their taxes just before the deadline. About 10 percent are late, he said.

"We've never had anybody explain (why they choose to wait). Some people receive their bill and pay it as soon as they get it. Some people pay periodically over the months and some people wait until it's close to the deadline," Ward said.

About 75,000 tax bills were mailed to residents in August. Those tax bills included about 62,000 parcels of real estate and other personal property across the county, Ward said.

Property tax collections generate about $39 million for county coffers. The county's total amount of taxable property is valued at about $5.3 billion. In 2005, the county Board of Commissioners increased the tax rate from 66 cents to 73.5 cents per $100 worth of property.

Personal property includes watercraft, aircraft and motors. Other personal property includes all unlicensed vehicles, trailers, campers and recreation vehicles, according to the tax department.

Business personal property can include computers, furniture and machinery, Ward said.

The due date for paying for those pieces of property was Sept. 1. But tax bills will be considered delinquent if they are not paid by Jan. 5.

If taxes are not paid on or before that date, 2 percent interest will be added to the remaining tax bills on Jan. 6. Then, the amount will increase 0.75 percent at the first of each additional month those property taxes have not been paid, Ward said.

The tax office can then use enforced collection procedures on delinquent taxpayers. The county can garnish wages, attach bank deposits or other accounts and even seize personal property or foreclose on real property.

If residents haven't paid by mid-February, 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 the tax office usually begins the process as soon as possible after that date.

To avoid becoming a delinquent taxpayer, Ward said the county tax office accepts pre-payment on any property tax bill.

"If you want to estimate your 2007 tax bill, divide that by 12 and pay it off every month. By December, you'll hopefully have one more amount to pay and you're done," Ward said.

Tax payments can be mailed to the Wayne County Tax Department, P.O. Box 1495, Goldsboro, N.C., 27533. All mailings must be postmarked by the United States Postal Service on or before Jan. 5.

The office is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily. Two drop boxes are also available to avoid waiting in long lines. The first is in the tax office and the other is off of Ormond Avenue near the courthouse entrance, Wayne Assistant Tax Administrator Alan Lumpkin said.

But some people still choose to wait in line, Ward said.

"Some people don't like to stand in line. But if you wait until this time of the year, you're going to have to stand in line," he said.

The lines also are starting to lengthen in Duplin County where, so far, tax collections are running slightly behind last year's pace.

At the end of November 2005, 55.3 percent of the owed taxes had been collected. At the end of this November, 54.5 percent had been collected.

Assistant tax administrator Joan Barnette, however, is not worried.

"I think we'll more than make up the difference in December," she said. "We hardly have time to breath right now."

This year, Duplin County has sent out bills for approximately $21.6 million. On average, Barnette's office collects about 84 percent of the owed taxes prior to the January deadline.

The tax office, at 118 Duplin St., Kenansville, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number is (910) 296-2110. They accept Visa and Mastercard.