Registered Motor Vehicles SEARCH AND PAY TAXES

 About North Carolina’s New Tag & Tax System 

The North Carolina General Assembly passed a new law effective July 1, 2013, to create a combined motor vehicle registration renewal and property tax collection system (Tag & Tax System). In doing so, the new law transfers the responsibility for motor vehicle tax collection from the 100 counties across North Carolina to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

North Carolina’s Tag & Tax System has been designed as a convenient way to pay annual vehicle tag renewals and vehicle property taxes.  To pay your tag and tax online click here.   For more information, visit the NC Department of Revenue web site.

Beginning July 1, 2016 DMV will charge a late fee in addition to interest when a plate has expired.  There is currently a grace period of 15 days for interest but, there is no grace period for the late fee.  

Late fees are:

  • $15.00 month one
  • $20.00 month two
  • $25.00 month three and thereafter.


  • A tag that expires on July 31st and is renewed August 10th will incur a $15.00 late fee and no interest.
  • A tag that expires on July 31st and is renewed August 16th will incur a $15.00 late fee and 5% interest for August.
  • A tag that expires on July 31st and is renewed September 1st will incur a $20.00 late fee and 5% interest for August and 0.75% interest for September.

If your address is current with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles, you will receive a Tag & Tax Notice listing both vehicle registration fees and taxes due. Just as in the past, vehicle owners will receive the notice about 60 days prior to their vehicle’s registration expiration.

The exception to this is all vehicles with a permanent tag are considered personal property and must be listed each January.

Taxing District
The taxing district is determined by the residence location of the vehicle’s owner on the date that the registration was applied for or renewed.

Vehicle Value and Appeal
The tax value is based on average retail. The value is determined as of January 1 of the year that the tax becomes due. This value may be appealed to the Tax Assessor within thirty (30) days of the billing date shown on the bill.

Vehicle Sold or Moved Out of State
If you receive a bill for a vehicle you no longer own (and the plate has been turned in to DMV) you may present a bill of sale or other transfer document and the “Receipt of Tag Surrender” (Form #FS-20) from the NCDMV to the Tax Collector for a possible tax pro-ration. Form #FS-20 and bill of sale must be presented to the Tax Collector within one (1) year of the date the plate was surrendered.

If you have moved out of state, registered the vehicle there, and surrendered the NC plate to DMV, you may request a tax pro-ration. A copy of the out-of-state registration and Form #FS-20 must be presented to the Tax Collector within one (1) year of the date the plate was surrendered.

Tag Transfer
If you transfer the tag from the billed vehicle to another vehicle after the tag was purchased or renewed, the original bill remains in effect for the full twelve (12) month billing cycle and must be paid in full. The newly acquired vehicle will not be billed for property tax until three (3) months after the next tag renewal.

If you no longer own the vehicle listed on the bill, but you have transferred the license plate to another vehicle, the tax bill should be paid in full as is. You will not be billed on the vehicle that you transferred the plates to until you renew the tag next year.

Pro-Ration of Bill
Pro-ration for any reason requires the Receipt of Tag Surrender (form FS-20 from NCDMV) and proof that the vehicle is no longer in your possession or that you have registered the vehicle out of state. Pro-rations are figured according to the month in which the license plate is surrendered to the NCDMV. There must be at least one full month remaining in the vehicle tax year upon date of surrender. We must receive request for pro-ration and necessary documentation within 12 months of the date license plate is surrendered to NCDMV.

Name Changes
The Tax Administration Office is required by law to list the owner’s name exactly as it is listed with NCDMV. Any name changes must be done with NCDMV.

Property Tax Relief on NC Motor Vehicle
Disabled Veteran NC Motor Vehicle: This exclusion exempts from taxation on a motor vehicle given to a qualified disabled veteran by the United States government or motor vehicle altered with special equipment to accommodate a service related disability. Required information:(1) application and (2) documentation where vehicle was provided or modified. Click HERE to download application.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q. Why is the state’s collection of vehicle property taxes changing? 

In 2005, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified House Bill 1779 to create a combined motor vehicle registration renewal and property tax collection system. The legislation places the responsibility for motor vehicle property tax collection for the state’s 100 counties with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The new combined registration fee and tax collection has become North Carolina’s new “Tag & Tax System.”


Q. When does the new Tag & Tax System take effect? 

The new system is scheduled to be phased into effect with vehicle registration renewals that are due in September 2013. By August 2014, all North Carolina vehicles will be enrolled in the system.


Q. Why has my registration renewal form changed? 

The new form combines information about your vehicle registration renewal fee and your vehicle property tax due. The new Tag & Tax System allows you to make one payment for both registration renewal and vehicle property tax.


Q. Will my vehicle registration renewal fee remain the same? 

Yes. Vehicle registration renewal fees will remain the same annual cost. The only increase in your bill will reflect the vehicle property tax amount.


Q. When is my vehicle tax due? 

Your vehicle tax will be due at the same time you renew your vehicle. North Carolina law requires that your vehicle property tax be paid in order to renew the vehicle registration. The due date will be printed on the new combined notice that you receive in the mail.


Q. Can I renew my vehicle registration if I do not pay my property tax first? 

No. You cannot renew your vehicle’s registration, whether it is leased or owned, unless the total taxes and registration fees on the vehicle are paid.


Q. Am I paying vehicle property taxes for the coming year, or for the preceding year? 

Taxes due on this notice are for the coming year, covering the same period as the vehicle registration.


Q. What if I lease my vehicle? Do I need to pay my property taxes to the leasing company? 

No. Vehicle property taxes on leased motor vehicles must be paid in full at the time of renewal. A copy of the combined tag and tax notice is not sent to the leasing company.


Q. Is interest charged on late payments? 

Yes. State law requires that interest be charged on late vehicle property tax payments and on late registration renewals.


Q. How will I know what vehicle property tax I owe? 

Your property tax will be included on the new combined notice with your county and municipality tax rates and other applicable taxes due.


Q. Will I receive a tax refund if I transfer my license plate to another vehicle during the year? 

No. If you have paid your vehicle property tax for the year and then transfer the license plate to another vehicle, you will not be eligible for a refund of the taxes paid. The registered motor vehicle to which the plates are transferred will not be taxed until its current registration is renewed.


Q. When can I apply for a refund of vehicle property taxes paid? 

An owner can apply for a refund of taxes paid when a motor vehicle is sold or registered out of state. The refund will be calculated on any full calendar months remaining in the registration period after the license plate is surrendered to the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles. Within one year of surrendering the license plates, the owner must present the following to the county tax office: (1) Proof of plate surrender to N.C. DMV (DMV Form FS20); and (2) Copy of the Bill of Sale or the new state’s registration.


Q. Should I pay vehicle property tax if I am active duty military? 

Active duty non-resident military personnel may be exempt from North Carolina motor vehicle property tax. To qualify for an exemption, you must present a copy of your Leave & Earnings Statement to the county tax office. The statement should be for the month and year in which you register the vehicle and must include your Estimated Time of Separation (ETS) date and home of record.


Q: Where does the customer need to go if their county code is not correct?

A: The customer must go the License Plate Agency (LPA) or contact the HB1779 call center at (919) 814-1779.


Q: Where does the customer need to go if their address is not correct?

A: The customer must go the LPA or contact the HB1779 call center at (919) 814-1779.


Q: What if the county code and the address are correct; however, the tax district is incorrect?

A: The county must make this correction in the Vehicle Tax System (VTS).

Q: What if the tax was paid in the wrong county at the LPA?

A: This must be corrected at the same LPA location if it is still within the 30-day window for a backout and the customer must provide plate, sticker, etc., received during the initial registration. If it is after the 30-day window or the title has printed, then the Reversal Process cannot be completed. The county will need to contact NCDOR for assistance. We are currently working on an enhancement to the VTS & the State Titling and Registration System (STARS) so this can be corrected.


Q: What if the tax was paid in the wrong county during an online registration or if the LPA cannot back out the transaction?

A: The customer should contact the county in which the tax was paid and the county must contact the N.C. Department of Revenue to initiate the correction.


Q: Who should customers contact if they have a question regarding their registration?

A: Customers should call the HB1779 call center at (919) 814-1779, not the LPA.

Q: Why is the tax value different than the value used for highway use tax?

A: Counties are required to use the retail value of the vehicle, whereas highway use tax is calculated on its wholesale value.


Q: What if the customer states that the vehicle should be exempt?

A: All exemption requests must be filed with the county (this process has not changed). If the county approves the exemption, the county must then make the adjustment in the VTS to remove the tax.


Q: What if the customer has a vehicle and wants to purchase a tag – issue plate service (IPS) – and the customer complains that the value is too high or the vehicle needs to be exempted by the county?

A: During the IPS transaction, the customer must pay the tax. The customer will then be able to appeal the value to the county within 30 days or apply for an exemption with the county and be issued a refund if applicable.


Q: Do taxes have to be paid when a new title is issued?

A: When a new title is issued, the customer may choose to pay the taxes or purchase a limited registration plate (LRP) which will allow them to defer the taxes for 60 days. The LRP can only be issued for new title service.

Q: Do taxes have to be paid on International Registration Plan (IRP) vehicles?

A: IRP vehicles are not classified as registered motor vehicles under the new Tag & Tax Together system. Therefore, no taxes will be paid during registration. These vehicles must be listed with the counties by the owner as of January 1st during the month of January each year.


Q: Are taxes due on public service utility vehicles?

A: Yes, but not at the time of registration. Public utility customers are encouraged to purchase an LRP when a new title is issued in order for the county to properly code these records so taxes will not be charged.


Q: If a change is made and the customer does not pay the tax, will the system generate a new notice?

A: Yes, the system will generate a duplicate notice during an overnight process. These notices are printed on Monday & Thursday nights. If an adjustment is made in the VTS, the system will automatically generate a new notice. If the county makes a change through VQ40 on the location and/or county code, or the LPA makes the change, you must request the notice to be generated by entering a “Y” for duplicate notice.


Q: Why is the amount of tax due different in the system than what is printed on my invitation to renew?

A: If there is not a match between the address entered by DMV/LPA and the address in the county file, the system will recalculate the taxes based on the default district, which usually results in a higher tax. The customer can pay the amount and then ask the county for a refund or ask the LPA clerk to cancel the transaction. If the customer requests the LPA to cancel the transaction, the customer must then contact the county to make the correction before the registration renewal can be completed.


Q: What if the county code and the residential and/or location address are correct but the tax district is incorrect?

A: The customer has two options: He can pay the full amount and then ask the county to correct the district and issue to them a refund, or they can visit the county to have the correction made before renewing the registration.


Q: What if the customer receives an invitation to renew on a vehicle that has been traded or sold and the plate has been transferred to a new vehicle?

A: When the plate is renewed, the taxes will be recalculated on the new vehicle. If the customer requests an estimate of the new tax amount, they can use the Tax Estimator on the DMV website or call (919) 814-1779.


Q: What if the customer receives an invitation to renew on a vehicle they are not planning to renew?

A: The taxes become due only if the registration is renewed. If the registration is not renewed, the vehicle may still be subject to taxation by the county as an unregistered vehicle.


Q: What if a customer states they just paid their tax at the tax office and now we are asking them to pay again on the renewal?

A: This situation could occur if a customer did not make a timely payment on the previous year’s tax and their vehicle registration has been blocked. The past due taxes must be paid at the county tax office (in the old system) before the block can be removed and then the current tax (Tag & Tax Together) must be paid with the annual renewal registration. These could occur the same day. Over the past six months, county tax offices supplied citizens with information about the new Tag & Tax Together system and encouraged them to pay past due taxes to prevent this situation from happening.


Q: When a customer is granted an insurance hearing and they receive a temporary cardboard plate, should the customer pay the property tax?

A: Yes, if the customer is paying a registration fee then property tax should be charged.


Q: If the customer has been cleared following an insurance hearing or they need to pay the fine and get a metal plate with year sticker, should the customer pay the property tax if no registration fee is collected?

A: No, since there is no registration fee collected, taxes should not be collected. Taxes were collected on the previous plate.


Q: Following an insurance hearing that requires the customer to turn in a temporary plate, the customer is required to wait 30 days before the vehicle can registered again. When customer returns to pay the registration fee, do they have to pay the property tax?

A: Yes, if a registration fee is collected, then property taxes should be collected.


Q: What is the difference between an LRP and a temporary plate?

A: LRP's are metal plates with a “T” sticker attached indicating that registration fees have been paid and the taxes have been deferred for two months past the initial month. Temporary plates are cardboard and have varying expiration dates and uses.

Questions? Please Contact Us: 

Burke County Tax Listing Department

110 North Green St.

Morganton, NC 28655




For questions regarding tags, titles, and registration:

North Carolina License Tag Office

603 South College Street

Morganton, NC 28655