BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
North Carolina motorists are going to have to pay their vehicle property tax and registration bill at the same time if they want to get their tags.
The new Tax and Tag Together Program took effect Sunday after the first set of bills went out at the end of July.
Margaret Howell of the North Carolina Department of Transportation says that, under the current system, motorists renew their registration, and a property tax bill for the vehicle follows a few months later.
But that's changing. Under the new law, motorists won't be able to register their vehicles until the taxes are paid. Both are due at the same time.
She said counties requested the new law.
"The counties wanted to get the vehicle property taxes in a timely manner. They wanted to get them in at the beginning of the tax year rather than later," Howell said. "A lot of people were paying taxes a little bit along the way. In other words, they would send in maybe $20 this month, $20 next month. There was no penalty for doing that. And the counties, of course, had obligations. They needed to get that money in. This helps the counties."
North Carolina has about 8.5 million registered vehicles.
Howell said the agency has been trying for months to make sure motorists know about the change.
"Everyone who has a part in the new program has worked very hard to get information out," she said. "And in fact, our website, has a lot of information — even a tax estimator on it so you can go there prior to getting your bill and estimate what your taxes will be."
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)