If you dread your annual trip to renew your vehicle tag at the Orange County Tax Collector’s Office, where you know you’ll sit for what seems like forever waiting for your number to be called, fear not.
There is hope.
The Orange tax collector is the first in the state to roll out “Tag Express,” a new same-day system that allows you to renew your vehicle tag online and pick it up the same day, without waiting.
You’ll be able to pick up your renewal decal at the office of your choice by heading straight to a sort of fast-pass line and bypassing all the waiting rabble.
Tax Collector Scott Randolph’s office handles about 1.1 million new and renewed vehicle tags a year.
For years, owners have had the option to pay online and have the new registration mailed to them in a few days.
Even so, as many as 60 percent of people go to the closest office to do it in person, often because it’s already late and they want it done quickly so they don’t get a traffic ticket.
About 46,000 people a month wait in line at one of the eight offices in Orange County.
“People still wait until the last minute,” Randolph said. “They end up waiting 30 to 45 minutes, or if it’s busy an hour.”
Under the new system, people who don’t want to wait for the new registration to show up in the mail have the option to use Tag Express.
They pay online and select the office where they want to pick it up later that day. They’ll receive an email when it’s ready, and then can pick it up from a special line.
“It will drive down the wait times for everybody,” Randolph said.
The agency’s 240 front-line employees will also have time to focus on more complex transactions.
It’s part of a push for new technology that Randolph says didn’t keep pace under former tax collector Earl K. Wood.
The office is also developing an online check-in tool that should keep you from waiting long for a drivers license, too.
That system, which is about to begin beta testing, will allow customers to check in, receive a spot in line, and then show up just a few minutes before their turn at the counter.
“The goal is to get rid of the whole concept of spending your whole afternoon in line getting your drivers license,” Randolph said.
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