08/30/09 — Wayne County tax notices in the mail

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Wayne County tax notices in the mail

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 30, 2009 12:26 AM

By Tuesday, some of the roughly 70,000 annual tax bills mailed Monday afternoon for real estate, individual personal property and business personal property began showing up in mailboxes across the county.

All of the bills should be delivered by the end of the week, at least locally.

And hoping that the notice gets lost in the mail is no excuse for not paying -- it is a property owner's responsibility to know that the taxes are due, said Wayne County Tax Administrator David Ward.

People who have not received their notice by the first of the week should contact the tax collections office at 731-1478. Property owners living outside the country might not receive their notices until later in the week.

"Certainly, if you have not received it by next week call, and we will research it," Ward said. "If you know you should receive one, give us a call."

Ward noted that state law does not require the county to send out the annual notices.

Meanwhile, the collection rate for the 2008 tax levy stands at 97.18 percent, down slightly from 2007's rate of 97.32 percent.

"We don't like any drops, but everything considered that is still a pretty good collection rate," Ward said.

The tax bills account for slightly more than $41 million in county taxes. That number will increase by as much as a couple of million dollars later in the year when the state Department of Revenue provides details on its appraisal of public services such as Progress Energy and AT&T.

The notices represent $5.369 billion in total property value. It does not include the value of licensed vehicles and the public services.

The taxes are for real estate (houses and land), individual personal property such as watercraft, aircraft, mobile homes and unlicensed and untagged motor vehicles, and business personal property.

Wayne County, unlike some other counties including Duplin, does not offer a discount for early payment.

Also, the county collects taxes for all of the municipalities except for Walnut Creek.

The tax rates per $100 worth of property are:

*Wayne County, 76.4 cents

*Goldsboro, 65 cents

*Mount Olive, 59 cents

*Fremont, 65 cents

*Eureka, 66 cents

*Pikeville, 60 cents

*Seven Springs, 54 cents

*Walnut Creek, 36 cents.

The deadline to pay taxes to avoid interest is before the tax office closes on Jan 5.

Jan. 6, interest starts accruing, Ward said.

People who pay by mail must ensure that the envelope has an official U.S. Postal Service postmark for Jan. 5 to be considered on time. Office postal meter stamps do not count, he said.

Interest for the first month the taxes are late is 2 percent. An additional three-quarters of one percent will be added on the first day of each succeeding month on any unpaid balance.

"This is interest only, it is not a penalty," Ward said. "A penalty is a whole different thing."

The penalty applies to business or individual property items not listed during the January listing period.

People who file late or who have unlisted property that is discovered after the filing period face a penalty of 10 percent of the total assessed vale of the property .

The late-listing penalty, as are other aspects of the listing and interest, are prescribed by state law and not by the county, Ward said.

Another state requirement the county is working on is its 2011 property revaluation. Ward expects the task to be well under way by fall. New property values will hit the mail in early 2011.

Ward said it is too early to predict how the values will change. That, he said, will depend on what happens during the rest of the year and 2010.

The values in place are those established during the 2003 revaluation.

The vehicle tax collection continues to trail the property tax collection.

Through the end of July, approximately 85.49 percent of the vehicle taxes had been collected. Ward has said that the county pursues all delinquent taxes.

There is about a three-month lag time between the time a person renews their vehicle registration and when they receive the tax bill.

Once the tax is delinquent, the county can place a block on the next renewal for the tags. Even then, some people do not pay the taxes until it is time to renew their tags again.

That is expected to change in July 2011 when a new law goes into effect that would require people to pay their taxes before getting their vehicle tags, not after.