CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UPDATE: One of the subjects in this story, Randy Moss, paid his $15,000 delinquent property tax bill Monday, February 24. This story was initially published on Friday, February 21.
From a Hall of Fame football player to a popular resort, a Defenders investigation found thousands of Mecklenburg County taxpayers owe a combined $47 million in delinquent taxes. Some paid following our questions.
Tax Collector Neal Dixon said there are 43,304 delinquent bills in all, as of earlier this week. Those bills were due on September 1, 2019.
County records show retired football player and ESPN personality Randy G. Moss owes more than $15,000 in taxes and interest. His bill shows his $1.5 million, 7,500 square foot south Charlotte home is overdue on its 2019 city and county taxes. Moss has yet to respond to our messages for comment.
The county's Top 100 Delinquent Taxpayer List included Ballantyne Resort up until recently. The resort's listed $116,000 tax bill is now paid.
"Thank you for bringing this to our attention," spokesperson Greta Vanhersecke said. "The entity that is named in the tax bill is not The Ballantyne hotel entity. We have been working to identify the correct entity and ensure it is corrected if in fact it refers to the hotel. The hotel has paid this bill in the meantime, however, while they work directly with the city to fix the issue with naming the correct entity."
The list also named the Wal-Mart on S. Tryon Street, which owed $184,000. Blamed on an incorrect billing address, Wal-Mart paid the bill after we questioned the company. The property will now be taken off the list.
The Greater Charlotte Chamber of Commerce also paid its outstanding $3,700 tax bill from 2016 after we raised questions.
"It was a dispute regarding an assessment on 2016 property taxes," spokesperson Natalie Dick said. "Specifically, we were seeking to have the interest waived. It has since been paid. For the record, we are current with our regular property tax bill, which is over $20,000 annually."
Unfortunately, not everyone is that responsive. While most people in Mecklenburg County pay their bills on time, Dixon has to go above and beyond every year to make sure everyone pays up, so every taxpayer does his or her part and so the government gets the money it needs to operate.
"By not paying it, it actually spreads the burden out among others," Dixon said. "A lot of times, it's financially driven. There's some oversight. Sometimes it's just negligence. As far as willful intent, we find there's some of that, but there's not that much."
By the end of June, Dixon said the county will have collected 99.5% of all delinquent taxes. The collection rate for the county right now is 97.66%, according to the county.
"We always strive for even more," Dixon said.
Between now and the end of June, the tax collector said his office will try to persuade everyone to pay as the late penalty grows, but he has other options.
"There's still millions of dollars out there," he said. "We pursue those."
Dixon said he garnished more than 7,200 wages, bank accounts and rents and referred 360 properties to attorneys for foreclosure last year alone. Dixon said he can also take personal property and auction it off, but he doesn't want it to come to that.
"We're not what maybe the stereotype is," Dixon said. "They can come and see us."
There's an important deadline coming up for people who don't cooperate. Those who don't pay by February 28, will see their names listed in the delinquent tax notice published later this year in The Charlotte Observer.
Taxpayers can see their bills by visiting MeckNC.gov/taxes and then clicking the Property Tax System link. People are encouraged to pay their taxes online at MeckNC.gov/paytax.
Property owners struggling to pay their taxes should contact the tax office by dialing 311 from within the county or (704) 336-7600 from outside the county.