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Pay taxes by Thursday, or pay interest charges

January 4, 2012

Your property taxes are due Thursday.

If you don’t pay, the taxes will become delinquent, and interest will be added to them, said Mark Logan, Catawba County tax administrator.

North Carolina law requires that interest be added at the rate of 2 percent for January, and three-fourths of 1 percent for each following month, on all tax bills unpaid after 5 p.m. Thursday. 

Citizens can pay their bills in several ways, including submitting payments in a depository to the right of the main entrance of the Catawba County Government Center.

Citizens can also pay taxes online by using the “Online Tax Payment” link on the left side of the main page at catawbacountync.gov.

Payments can also be sent by mail, but must be postmarked no later than January 5, 2012, to avoid interest charges.

Each year, Catawba County is charged with collecting 100 percent of taxes in the county, including those in its municipalities. The county has collected an average of 97 percent in recent years.

Last fiscal year, the county collected $77,216,606 (97.27 percent) in real estate and personal property tax from its county residents, but had $2,167,872 outstanding.

In municipalities like Newton and Conover, the story was similar, with each municipality collecting 97 percent of its real estate and property taxes, while having a combined uncollected taxes totaling more than $340,000.

Tax officials say that, in a down economy, 97 percent is a good collection rate.

“We can only collect what’s out there,” Ona Scruggs, Catawba County tax collector, said earlier this year. “With the high rate of unemployment and bankruptcy, some people don’t have money. If they don’t have a job and don’t have a bank account, there’s not much I can collect.”

Catawba County tax collectors use procedures like wage garnishments and sheriff’s levies to try to reach their goal each year, but those procedures are useless in some situations.

“If you have personal property or real estate, we can work with people, but we can’t collect what’s not there,” Scruggs said. “We can do garnishments and levies, but if the person isn’t to be found or is found and is not working, has no income or bank account, then there’s not anything we can collect.”

Since 1993, Catawba County has billed and collected taxes for all cities and towns within its borders.

You must list, too

Citizens must list their personal property in January.

Logan said anyone who receives a personal property listing — which were mailed last month — must list during the month of January. He said property owners should carefully follow the instructions printed on the back of the abstract, which tells how to properly complete a listing.

Those who receive an abstract should draw a line through any property listed on the abstract that they no longer own, and list any additional items which are not printed on the new abstract, he said.

Owners of land and buildings will automatically receive a tax bill and are not required to list. Tagged vehicles are billed on a staggered monthly system during the tax year.

“If you were the owner of a double-wide manufactured home, single-wide mobile home, boat and motor, jet ski, aircraft, multi-year tagged trailer, or an unregistered (not tagged) automobile, truck, utility trailer, camper, motor home, or motorcycle in 2011, and you are still the owner of any or all of these in 2012, you are required to list these during the month of January,” Logan said.

Logan said owners of the aforementioned properties who don’t receive a property listing abstract by Jan. 6 should call 828-465-8402 to request one in the mail.

For more information, contact the Catawba County Tax Department at 828-465-8414.

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