By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Taxes due next week
Collection rate so far surprises
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News

A drive-thru tax payment service will be offered Thursday, Friday and Monday at both of Forsyth County’s collections locations, 1092 Tribble Gap Road and 1950 Sharon Road. Contact: (770) 781-2110 or
Good news for those counting the days until their property taxes are due.

The annual Nov. 15 deadline has been extended by a day because this year it falls on a Sunday.

“I won’t add the late fee until the 16th at close of business, so that will give people that Monday too,” said Forsyth County Tax Commissioner Matthew Ledbetter.

The extra day may not make much difference, given the current rate of collection is 3 percent higher than this time last year.

“We are thrilled with that number,” Ledbetter said. “To be honest, I thought we would probably be behind last year’s numbers ... because the economy, in my opinion, hasn’t gotten any better.”

So far, his office has collected about 44 percent of the $200 million owed on property.

Ledbetter said he expects to collect no less than 100 percent, as he has every year since taking office in 2005.

Collections above 100 percent result from late fees, which will kick in Nov. 17. The fine is an additional 1 percent of taxes owed each month.

The 3 percent increase in collections could stem, in part, from the county no longer offering a payment plan, which Ledbetter said only a small percentage of taxpayers used.

For those who don’t pay their property taxes by Feb. 15, an additional 10 percent fine will be tacked on.

From that point, the bills go to a collection agency, Ledbetter said. The following Feb. 15, another 10 percent fine is added.

To avoid such fees, Ledbetter said, a large percentage of late payments are made within 60 days.

While there’s no way to analyze why people are late, Ledbetter said there is a trend among those paying late.

“They know they are going to be late, so they’ll miss the November deadline,” he said. “But then you’ve got Christmas ... so we don’t do that good in December.

“We’ll get a big percentage in January, but then you get your majority between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15 because of the 10 percent.”

If taxes on real property haven’t been paid within two years, the property will be sold, something Ledbetter said doesn’t happen often.

The county’s tax collections come from about 88,000 accounts, including homes, businesses and boats.

Property tax bills average about $3,000 for residential properties, Ledbetter said, and about 60 percent of collections come from escrow accounts.

This year’s collections will be a little more difficult for the commissioner’s office, which is down to 34 employees as a result of budget cutbacks.
In 2007, the office had 41 employees.

Still, Ledbetter was pleased with the collection process so far.

“We’re very lucky to have such good collections and it’s due to the fact that we have good citizens of Forsyth County,” he said.