Officials: Tag and Tax Together well received

Mar. 21, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

Unlike some of its larger cohorts, Lee County is seeing a higher collection rate after the state began collecting vehicle property taxes in September.

After the North Carolina General Assembly approved legislation to create the Tag and Tax Together program, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles began collecting vehicle property taxes when people paid their registration renewals, said Lee County Tax Administrator Mary Yow.

“It’s going well,” she said. “I’ve talked to a lot of taxpayers who like it.”

Pam Gunter, manager of the North Carolina License and Tag Agency in Sanford on Wilson Road, agreed, but said there are still some people who are surprised by the change.

“The majority of the people seem to like this much better,” she said. “They like being able to pay at one time.”

The main problem some residents have experienced, she said, is people having to pay their back taxes before they can renew their registration.

Despite the collection rate increase, Yow said it’s too soon to determine a dollar amount increase the county might expect to see at the end of this fiscal year. The motor vehicle property tax rate collection rate last fiscal year was 87 percent compared to the current collection rate of nearly 100 percent, she said.

“Right now we are tracking it, but it is what we expected it to be,” Yow said. “We are not seeing the same issues as the larger counties.”

Lee County Finance Director Lisa Minter relayed the same information during the Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday.

“I have reviewed our numbers through January, and we are seeing an improvement in our in our motor vehicle collection through the new tax and tag program,” Minter said. “There have been some conversations and articles in the papers about other counties not seeing that, but we have been seeing a positive benefit from the change.”

The county will continue to monitor the change throughout the year, she said.

According to the DMV website, if the address on a person’s registration is current, they will receive a notice that lists both vehicle registration fees and taxes are due 60 days prior to their vehicle’s registration expiration.

The News & Observer recently reported some Wake County residents who used to pay $28 to $33 each year now must add hundreds of dollars to cover the local property taxes, and some are choosing to let their vehicle registration lapse.

Yow said she hasn’t heard of similar experiences in Lee County, but that people did need to be aware of the change to avoid the sticker shock.

“Once people have adjusted to the change and understand how it works, they will know to expect to pay at registration time,” she said.

The General Assembly first approved the Tag and Tax Together program in 2005 and software glitches delayed the implementation of the program until September 2013. All vehicles should be in the new system by mid-2014.