Is 9 your lucky number? Maybe not.
The first combined state vehicle registration and county car tax notices went out last month to drivers with September vehicle registration renewals.
Others will follow.
That could be bad news for motorists who will have to pay both bills at once, but it could be good news for counties that had collection shortfalls and could see a one-time windfall.
After receiving a driver’s entire payment, the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles will renew the driver’s vehicle registration and forward the property tax portion of the payment to the county tax office.
No owner will have to pay taxes twice in the same tax year for the same vehicle, according to DMV. By law, the tax year begins the first month after the previous registration expires. It could be possible to pay twice in the same calendar year, however.
Many county financial officers expect a one-time windfall because many motorists will be paying taxes tied to their last renewal, then later paying taxes up front for the coming tax year.
Guilford County collects about $3.5 million a year from the car tax. The current budget anticipates an additional $1.5 million in tax revenue because the new program is expected to improve collections.
“There could be more collected, but this is what we did plan for,” said Casey Smith, a county budget analyst.
While many counties collect nearly 100 percent of real estate property tax revenue, car tax collection rates have been much lower. An estimated 13 percent of vehicle property taxes go unpaid each year, on average statewide.
Because most car tax bills were sent out after vehicle tags were renewed, drivers could wait until the next year’s renewal deadline to pay the tax bill. This year, if motorists don’t pay, they will take a chance of driving with an expired license tag.
The change will probably cut lines at local tax offices. Although counties will handle appeals of vehicle value and refunds for the sale of a vehicle or for moves out of state, most motorists will not pay their taxes at the county tax office.
Check the Numbers
Bill Due: Vehicle owners with the “9” sticker on their license tags will be the first to get the combined state registration and car tax bill. By mid-2014, the program should include all North Carolina vehicle owners.
Information: Vehicle owners will receive the DMV statement about 60 days before their vehicle’s registration is set to expire. The bills can be paid at local DMV offices, through the mail or online. Motorists should keep their mailing addresses current with DMV.
Visit the DMV website: ncdot.gov/dmv/.