Get ready for a bigger bill, with car taxes added, from NCDMV

bsiceloff@newsobserver.comApril 29, 2013 

— Car owners soon will start receiving new bills that combine state license tag renewal fees with county automobile property taxes – all payable to the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

DMV is taking over the collection of local car taxes under orders from the General Assembly. Drivers will make a single tag-and-tax payment to DMV each year, and DMV will forward the tax portion to the county tax collector.

The change will be phased in over the coming year, month by month – starting with drivers whose cars have a “7” registration renewal sticker, for the month of July.

DMV will mail these July tag-and-tax bills by mid-May, marked with an Aug. 15 payment deadline.

Why make the change?

Some county tax collectors have a hard time getting motorists to pay their car taxes. They say it can be expensive to send repeat bills and take other steps to collect delinquent taxes – and some car taxes still go unpaid. Collection rates are expected to improve when car owners are forced to pay the tax before they can renew their license tags.

The change also means that car owners will pay their government bill just one time each year – instead of making two payments a few months apart, to state and county governments.

“It’s better customer service, and I think we feel like it’s a better way of doing business,” said David B. Baker, local government director for the N.C. Department of Revenue.

How are these taxes paid now?

The county tax year for each car starts after the DMV renewal month. The owner of a car with DMV’s July sticker pays county taxes to cover a 12-month period starting in August. County tax bills are sent out a few weeks later, payable before the fourth month of the tax year.

So here’s how it worked last year for that car with a “7” July sticker:

The owner received a DMV registration bill in mid-May, with payment due by Aug. 15 (DMV adds a 15-day grace period). Later, the driver received a tax bill from the county, to be paid by Nov. 1. The intervals are the same, though the due dates differ, for cars with different registration renewal months.

How will the new schedule work?

The DMV dates will not change. The owner of a car with a “7” July sticker will have a payment due by Aug. 15. This time the payment will be larger, because it includes the county tax along with the DMV fee. Statewide, the average car tax is about $100.

You will no longer receive a separate car tax bill from the county. But you’ll continue to pay real estate taxes to the county.

What does the tag-and-tax bill look like?

It includes separate details of your county car tax and your registration fee, combining them in the total amount due. Local contact information is included for questions about your county tax bill.

You can pay DMV by mail, online or at local tag offices. Don’t forget to have your car inspected before you make the payment.

Are they making you pay taxes earlier this year than last year?

Yes. The change will move everybody’s tax payment deadline 21/2 months earlier on the calendar. So for a car whose tax was paid to the county last Nov. 1, the combined tag-and-tax payment will fall due at DMV this Aug. 15.

County officials say your car tax year is unchanged. Instead of collecting payment before the start of the fourth month, they’re having DMV collect the payment by the 15th day of the first month of your car’s tax year.

“There’s no overlap in the period of time they’re paying for; it’s just that the due date has been adjusted,” said Marcus Kinrade, Wake County revenue director.

In subsequent years, the tag-and-tax payment will be due every 12 months.

Siceloff: 919-829-4527 or blogs.newsobserver.com/crosstown or twitter.com/Road_Worrier/

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