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Chatham County extends period to pay late 2008 taxes until April 30

Posted Monday, April 13, 2009

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Pittsboro, NC- Due to the economic downturn, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners took action in February to extend the period for property owners to pay their 2008 property taxes and late penalties before the Tax Office advertises unpaid property tax liens. However, the extended payment period ends on April 30, 2009.

"We know that this is a difficult time for many residents affected by the recession. Tax bills are not what you want to see in the mail during times like these," said Tax Collector Frances Wilson. The extension did help some taxpayers catch up and pay off their 2008 taxes.

However, Wilson said that it is very important for those still owing property taxes and penalties for 2008 to know that they must pay in full by April 30, 2009. After that date, the next step is advertising unpaid property tax liens the first week of May, with the advertising costs added to each parcel's tax bill.

Wilson emphasized that tax payments must be received by the Chatham County Tax Office by April 30, 2009. "The postmark is only used to calculate interest penalties, not to verify the date we received it."

Chatham County's 2008 tax bills were mailed to taxpayers last August and the last day to pay without incurring penalties was Jan. 5, 2009. Taxes paid after that date incurred a two percent interest penalty for the month of January, with an additional three-quarters percent penalty incurred for each month after January.

"We do our best to avoid foreclosure on properties and other legal actions to collect back taxes, including working with property owners to develop payment plans," Wilson said.

The Tax Office reviews the payment plans to make sure that they are consistently applied and to identify taxpayers who are not making payments on a regular basis. "We urge anyone who is behind on their payments to do whatever they can to catch up and avoid foreclosure or other consequences," Wilson said.

Non-foreclosure options include legal proceedings to obtain the late taxes and penalties from property owners' wages, bank accounts, rental payments received from tenants, and income tax refunds. The county also has the option to seize and sell owners' personal property.

Those who can't keep up with their payments will receive a notice of pending legal action. Wilson noted that if foreclosure is pending, the property owner can expect to receive a pre-foreclosure letter as a warning that the lien has been referred to an attorney and that the property will be sold to cover the taxes.

Wilson urges property owners to "pay up before the attorney begins the foreclosure process. After that point, it is too late. The attorney's fees and other foreclosure costs will be added to the tax bill at settlement." The fees can exceed $800 per parcel.

"Many of our taxpayers are already making payments on their estimated 2009 tax bills, even though the tax rate for 2009 will not be adopted by elected officials until June," Wilson said. All pre-payments of 2009 taxes will be shown on the tax bill when it is mailed in August, 2009.

Even if making 2009 payments in installments, property owners must pay their entire tax bill by January 5, 2010 to avoid interest penalties.

For more information on late payment of taxes, including information on installment payments, call Chatham County Tax Collections at 919-542-8260.

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Chatham County extends period to pay late 2008 taxes until April 30

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