The total of uncollected taxes for 2014 continued to fall – ever so slightly – for the fifth straight year since 2009, the official end to the recession when $43 million in Mecklenburg County tax bills were stamped delinquent.
As of Monday, the day after the annual list of delinquent taxpayers was published in the Observer, individual taxpayers and businesses owed more than $26.8 million. The average delinquent bill on Feb. 28 – the deadline to not incur interest – was $931 for individuals and $974 for businesses, said Mecklenburg Tax Collector Neal Dixon.
More than 98 percent of bills had been paid in Mecklenburg, the city of Charlotte and each of the county’s six towns, he said.
On last year’s list, delinquent taxpayers owed more than $27 million.
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Dixon is charged with collecting taxes for real estate and personal property such as land, homes, boats, businesses and equipment.
State law requires the county to list people and businesses who owe taxes. Those taxes were due Sept. 1, 2014, but delinquent property owners were sent letters in late January and had until Feb. 28 to pay without incurring interest – and avoiding the list.
“Someone could have paid on March 15, and still be on the list,” Dixon said.
The majority of unpaid bills are for relatively small amounts, he said. Nearly 4,400 bills sent to individual taxpayers and about 3,800 bills to businesses were for less than $100, data show. About 600 delinquent bills to individuals and about 775 delinquent bills to business totaled less than $10.
“It shows that many people are still struggling from the recession,” Dixon said.
He oversees 12 tax collectors responsible for gathering every penny. They call each individual or business, and often go knock on doors. Most people, he said, would pay their tax bills if they could. His collectors run into all kinds of reasons why they don’t.
Typically, by the next fiscal year that begins July 1, 99 percent – “or something a little more or a little less” – of taxes due to Mecklenburg will be collected.
(Update: This story was updated April 3, 2015, to remove a photograph of a house. The house was not on the delinquent tax list.)
Need to pay your tax bill?
By Internet: Log on to paytax.charmeck.org and use your credit card, debit card or eCheck.
By phone: Call toll-free 800-994-1026 and use a credit card, debit card or eCheck.
By mail: Mail your check using the return envelope that accompanied your tax bill.
In person: At the tax collector’s office at Robert L. “Bob” Walton Plaza, 700 E. Stonewall St., or 4150 Wilkinson Blvd., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Cash, money order or checks accepted. Make checks payable to Mecklenburg County Tax Collector. A fee is assessed when using credit or debit cards. Credit card and debit card payments are not accepted at the tax collector’s office. There is no charge for eCheck payments.