County officials expect more motor vehicle taxes to be paid on time now that the state is set to handle collections.
Because of state fees built into the new collection program, those same officials also doubt the changes will have a drastic effect on the total amount collected.
“Right away I think you will see our collection go up from where it has been in the 80 (percent range) or the 70 (percent range) to almost 100 percent,” said Mary Helen Norton, tax administrator for the county.
“What we collect immediately will go up,” explained Norton.
Where it used to be that tags and taxes could be paid separately, the state’s new “Tax and Tag Together” program requires that vehicle tags and taxes be paid at the same time. To renew a vehicle registration, both the cost of tags and taxes due on the vehicle must be paid in full. The program takes effect Sunday. The new program includes collection of only motor vehicle property taxes and does not affect other property, such as homes.
After receiving the entire payment, the state Department of Motor Vehicles will renew the vehicle registration and forward the property tax portion of the payment directly to the appropriate county’s tax office. Vehicle owners can pay the property tax portion of the payment directly to the appropriate county’s tax office. Vehicle owners can pay the combined bill at their local license plate agency, online, or by mail.
Because of what Norton said are “little fees per tag” (about $1.69) charged by the state and paid by the county, the total amount of revenue that makes its way into county coffers may not increase as much as some have predicted, she said.
According to Norton and County Manager Kevin Patterson, the county eventually collected motor vehicle taxes at a relatively high percentage.
“It would be more accurate to look at our two year collections,” Patterson said. “In the first year it’s going to speed up payments by about three months, so we will see a cash bonus in the first year from our new collections. But after that, increases in (revenue) will probably be a little bit better, but I’m not expecting a massive change.”
According to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, vehicle owners with a “9” (September) sticker on their tag are due to pay the combine bill in September. Combined payments will also be due on vehicles purchased on or after Sept. 1 unless the owner elects not to pay the property tax at the point of sale. If the tax is not paid at the point of sale, the vehicle owner will receive a limited registration plate that expires 60 days after the vehicle is titled.
For leased vehicles, the person purchasing the license plate will receive the combined bill. Leasing companies will need to make arrangements with the customer as to how they want to collect fees and taxes.
The DMV website features frequently asked questions about the combined billing program and contact information for county revenue offices across the state. A Spanish version is also available.