Local News

Durham County Collecting Unpaid Vehicle Taxes

Posted September 25, 2002

— Unpaid vehicle taxes in Durham amount to over $1 million per year.

To solve the problem, Durham County appointed sheriff's Deputy Tracey Peterson in August 2001 to begin collecting the tax money.

Peterson seeks out negligent taxpayers and, on occasion, must seize a car.

"We don't necessarily talk to them on the phone one day and go seize the property the next day. We do allow some time in between. Depending on our case load, we do allow between a week to 30 days," said Peterson.

Johnston added that out of about 20,000 motor vehicle bills issued per month, approximately one-fourth are left unpaid.

However, she thinks people are catching on to the tax.

"I actually get stopped quite often from individuals who say, 'I've seen you before and I've paid my taxes.' So I know word is getting out," she said.

Deputy Tax Administrator Kimberly Simpson says she is pleased with the results.

"We turned over last August 1.9 million for them to collect and they collected 1.2 million of that 1.9 (million). They've seized a total of 46 vehicles in a year," said Simpson.

The tax department hopes to educate taxpayers about the payment process.

Vehicle tax bills should arrive three months after your last renewal and the tax department allows one month to pay before interest starts adding up.

The interest is 2 percent the first month and three-fourth of 1 percent each additional month. If you do not get a bill, contact your local tax office.

Peterson has authority to additionally seize computers, lawn mowers, and farm equipment - anything to satisfy the debt.

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