The great 2020 coronavirus pandemic tanked much of Guilford County’s economy, but that isn’t showing up in the property tax collection rate, which Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis said this week is higher than last year’s and may come in at a record level.
“We’re in a good place right now,” Chavis said.
Last year, Guilford County collected 99.17 percent of property taxes owed and this year that rate is currently on track to come in at nearly 99.5.
“I’d love for us to arrive at something like that,” the tax director said.
In recent years, the Guilford County Tax Department – with the help of the county attorney’s office and the planning department – has undertaken several actions to get the tax collection rate up to what is now perennially one of the highest collection rates in the state. The county has, for instance, been much more aggressive on foreclosures and has also implemented a program that uses aerial photography and computer software to detect any home or business additions or any new structures in the county.
Chavis said that county property owners seem to make paying property taxes a priority even in a bad economy.
“They know they need to take care of business,” he said.
The tax director also theorized that, while many people were out of work, they are also spending a lot less on things like going out to eat and attending entertainment events.
While changes of a few decimal points in the tax collection rate might not look like much on paper, small changes actually can make a tremendous difference for county government. A slight increase in the collection rate can mean millions more for the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to allocate toward schools, social services, emergency services or other government functions.