If you haven’t received it in your mailbox yet, you will any day now – something very special from Guilford County government.
Like most things sent to you via US mail by the government, it’s not something to look forward to: Guilford County has just mailed out its annual tax bills to property owners across the county.
This month, Guilford County mailed out 138,436 property tax bills. An additional 81,565 letter were already in the mail to property owners whose taxes were held in escrow by a mortgage lender.
If you don’t have enough money to pay your bill right now, you do have some time to earn, borrow or steal it. Full payment of your county tax bill on or before Monday, Jan. 6 will keep you from avoiding the interest, which will start to kick in on Tuesday, July 7.
The Tax Department under Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis has raised the tax collection rate to very high levels – over 99 percent – in recent years. Tax officials say that a high collection rate means that almost all property owners are paying their “fair share,” and it also, they say, assures that the Guilford County Board of Commissioners has access to nearly all of the legitimate property tax revenue the county is entitled to spend on county services and projects. Property tax revenue is the number one source of county funding each year, followed by sales tax revenue, which comes in a distant second.
The total property tax base for Guilford County for fiscal year 2019-2020 is estimated to be just over $52 billion – that’s nearly a 2 percent increase over the tax base for 2018-2019. That increase should translate into an additional $7 million of property tax revenue this year.
Guilford County offers a discount of 0.5 percent on the bill for current year taxes that are paid by August 31. According to data from the county, about 60 percent of property owners pay their tax bills by that discount deadline. The reduction in tax revenues due to the early payment discount is roughly $1 million, but it means the county gets the money early in the fiscal year so it doesn’t have to hit up any payday loan companies for additional funds during the year.
Over the last several years, the Guilford County Tax Department has been upping its game by aggressively pursuing foreclosures and increasing the use of technology. In order to find all the taxable property in the county and any improvements to the property, the department has been employing an advanced aerial computer pictometry system that discovers unregistered property improvements and any new structures.