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Summary of County Taxes, Permits and Fees

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The major taxing authority given to county and town/city governments in North Carolina is the property tax, which is a tax on the actual value of property. It is not a tax on the property owner nor the income from the property. As part of the budget process, the Board of County Commissioners sets the property tax rate for the county, effective July 1 of each year. Click here to view current property tax rate. There are three major categories of property that this tax rate applies to—real estate, motor vehicles and personal property.

  • Real estate property taxes are applied to the value of land and structures on the property (homes, sheds, garages, barns, pools, etc.) other than single-wide mobile homes. Real estate property values are reassessed every four years in Chatham County.
  • Personal property taxes are applied to the value of unregistered motor vehicles (such as cars without state tags and registration) as well as any boats, boat motors, airplanes, jet skis, single-wide mobile homes, and equipment used to produce income. For businesses, it covers any equipment, computers, machinery, fixtures or supplied used to produce income, including farm equipment and mowers.
  • Motor vehicle property taxes are applied to the value of any state-registered vehicle that is self-propelled (such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, motor homes, etc.), other than mopeds.

Listings: For real estate and personal property, forms are mailed out by early January to owners to list any property they owned as of January 1. Any changes in ownership should be noted here or any improvements to real estate property, such as major renovations, new additions, decks, pools, garages and outbuildings. The signed and completed form should be returned by the end of January.

For registered motor vehicles, the State of North Carolina provides the county with a list of registered vehicles so that owners do not usually have to contact the county to list these vehicles. However, if you have not received a tax bill for a registered vehicle within four to five months of registering or renewing your registration, contact the County Tax Office at 919-542-8250.

Payments: County bills for real estate and personal property are mailed out in August and are due September 1, but can be paid without penalty until a set date in early January, usually January 5. However, registered motor vehicle tax bills are mailed about four months after you have completed or renewed your state registration for the vehicle and is due within four weeks.

Exemptions: Some senior citizens and disabled residents with low household incomes may qualify for property tax exemptions for their residence.

Deferred taxes: Four categories of real estate property may qualify for deferred taxes, also known as “use value” taxes: agricultural, forestry, horticultural and historic properties.

For more information on property taxes, including who qualifies for exemptions and “use value,” and to pay your taxes online, click here.


Of the 6.75% sales taxes paid in North Carolina, just over one-third (or 2.5 cents on the dollar) are local sales taxes that help support county and municipal governments. The State of North Carolina periodically changes the laws related to sales taxes to exempt certain purchases or to change how the revenues are distributed. However, it is important to note that it always benefits our county when residents buy taxable items within the county whenever they can. 

IMPORTANT:  Chatham County often loses sales tax revenue and our residents often pay more sales tax than they should! Read more here.

Please use your 9-digit zip when you order items from outside the county but have them delivered


The annual county property tax bill includes a property tax to support one of the 12 fire districts in the county. To identify what district you are in and the current fire district tax rate, click here


All lodging facilities (hotels, inns, etc.) in the county collect a 3% occupancy tax from overnight customers, which can only be spent for travel and tourism marketing. These funds are used to support the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau and are its only source of county revenue.  


Chatham County’s Financial Policy guides the fee structure for a wide range of fees (outlined below) with the goal of reducing the burden on the property tax to subsidize the services. County fees are set at a level to recover as much of the full cost of certain targeted services that will directly impact a specific group that will benefit from the services, such as those who need access to new schools and recreation facilities or those needing inspections of their new homes. Some services areas, such as waste management, are operated as an “enterprise fund” so that the fees they collect for services cover their operational costs without property tax support.


The county collects fees for various permits related to the construction of new residential and commercial structures, replacement structures, and additions and major renovations to existing structures. The permits and fees vary widely, depending on whether or not the structure is new or remodeled and whether a well or septic system is needed. They also vary for mobile homes. For all new homes, permits related to wells and septic systems have to be completed first before a building permit or mobile home set-up permit can be issued. When permitted work has been completed, the county inspection of the work must be performed.

It is important to note that adding or replacing swimming pools, decks or outbuildings requires permits, as does replacing or renovating heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing systems or electrical systems. This includes replacing a water heater.

Two special fees in this category are:

School Impact Fee: This fee of $3,500 is required for all single-family residences (including mobile homes) that are new construction (i.e. where an existing residence is not being replaced). The fee is paid when the building permit or mobile structure permit is obtained from Central Permitting. The fee for multi-family housing or any accessory building with a dwelling unit (such as a garage with apartment) is $1,100 per unit, paid when the building permit for the units are obtained. The revenues are used in the school district where the residences are built and can only be used for school capital construction, such as new school facilities, building additions and renovations. To see the school district map, click here

Recreation Fee:
This fee is required whenever a parcel of land is subdivided into lots of ten acres or less in size, even if just one new lot. However, family subdivisions of land may be eligible for an exemption from this fee. Once any subdivision has been approved through the county’s planning process, the fee is collected by the Planning Department on behalf of the Recreation Department. The fees are used for recreation facilities within the recreation district of the subdivision. In some parts of the county, the fee is $926 per lot (eastern areas) and is $548 per lot in western parts of the county. Subdivisions within the planning areas of Pittsboro, Siler City and Cary do NOT pay the county recreation fee. For a recreation fee district map, click here.

For more information on permit & inspection fees, click here.


Any residential or commercial structures connecting to the county’s water system for the first time must pay a connection fee. The connection fee varies based on the size of the waterline needed to supply the facility. If you are a new owner or renter of a facility that is already connected to the water system, you pay a deposit to reconnect services.

For more information, click here.


The county’s Solid Waste & Recycling Office is managed as an “enterprise fund,” which means it is funded by county-collected solid waste fees rather than from the general budget (property taxes). These fees are billed to owners of residences in the unincorporated parts of the county (outside town limits) on their county tax bill.   Once paid, the homeowner receives two decals per property that allow access and use of the 12 collection centers, which includes trash disposal and collection of items for recycling. Trash collected at these centers accounts for about one-third of the total waste stream generated in Chatham County.  Town residents wishing to use the county’s collection centers can obtain decals from the Waste Management office by paying a fee.   

For more information on decals, click here.


Various departments collect fees for specific programs, services or documents, such as:

  • Recreation program registration fees
  • Recording of property deed and wills
  • Marriage license and death certificate fees
  • Fees for printed GIS maps (varies based on size and quantity)
  • Revenue stamps (collected by the Register of Deeds whenever properties are sold, but the state keeps half the revenue)
  • Filing fees to be a candidate for public office
  • Health Department fees for vaccines
  • Gun permit and concealed weapon permit fees (Sheriff’s Office)
  • Cooperative Extension workshop and class fees


For information on business-related taxes and fees, click here.