Tax collections on the upswing

By Vicki Hyatt | Feb 06, 2013

Haywood County Tax Collector David Francis said collections are on track to match averages in past years — typically a collection rate of 96 percent.

Though real estate property tax collections are stronger than they've been in years, motor vehicle tax collections are significantly lower.

As it stands now, 89.49 percent of the revenue expected from property tax bills mailed out last fall has been paid. Penalties are assessed on bills paid after the January due date, and the county commissioners on Monday cleared the way for names of delinquent taxpayers to be published in March.

Out of the $37.5 million billed, $33.2 million due from property taxes has already been paid. That total is the sixth highest the county has seen at this point in the collection process in a decade, Francis added.

Of the $1.7 million in tax dollars levied on motor vehicles, only $1.18 million has been collected. County Tax Collector David Francis said this is the lowest motor vehicle collection rate he's seen in his tenure.

Real estate tax payments, on the other hand, are higher than they've been in years, with $35.8 million billed and $32.1 million already paid.

Francis said he attributes the higher collection rates to a slowly improving economy.

"People are better able to pay their taxes on time," Francis said.

Starting this July, the motor vehicle property tax issue will be handled differently.

Instead of paying the state for a license tag renewal and the county for the vehicle's property tax, both bills will be included in one charge from the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles. The state will then send the property tax portion back to the county.

The switch is expected to not only be more convenient for motorists, but should also increase property tax collection rates as well, Francis said.