While most people were sending out season’s greetings this week, the Guilford County Tax Department played Scrooge by reminding everyone about property taxes.

The department’s very un-Christmassy notice reminds all county citizens that the 2020 property tax listing process begins on Thursday, Jan. 2 – before some people have even had time to completely get over their New Year’s Day hangover.

The county’s bah-humbug notice reads coldly, “All persons and businesses in Guilford County are required by North Carolina law to list for taxation before midnight January 31, 2020, personal property owned on January 1, 2020.”

And yes, that includes any additions and other improvements made to real property during 2019. It will likely mean you’ll pay more in taxes, but it’s the law.

Here are a few examples of improvements the tax collectors want to know about: “aluminum or vinyl siding, central heat and/or air conditioning, storage buildings or detached garages, and swimming pools.”

Listings can be submitted in person, by mail, or – for listings of property used in connection with a business – electronically through an on-line listing system.    

The Tax Department’s notice also reminds people that personal property items used in connection with a business – including boats, mobile homes, unregistered motor vehicles and aircraft – are taxable and must be listed.

The tax collectors are also interested in any “deletions” made to your property, so some taxpayers may benefit from the listing process.

Anyone who’s been following the county news in recent years knows that the Tax Department is more likely than ever to know about what you did to your property. It now has eyes in the sky taking pictures of the entire county and it uses a highly sophisticated computer program to find nearly all visible changes.

Vehicles that are licensed annually in the state are not to be listed on the personal property listing form, but vehicles that don’t have a current North Carolina license plate are to be listed – as are “trailers registered on a multiyear basis, vehicles registered under the International Registration Plan (IRP), and vehicles owned and leased by public service companies.”

Those who haven’t received a listing form by Wednesday, Jan. 15 should call the Guilford County Tax Department at either 336-641-3320 or 336-641-7911 to request one.

Listings that are submitted in person or are postmarked after Friday, Jan. 31 will be subject to a penalty. Business listings submitted electronically after May 15 will be subject to a penalty as well. Also, any unlisted property will be “subject to discovery and penalty.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.