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Reappraisal Q&A (2)

Why does the county reappraise property?

North Carolina law requires counties to reappraise all real property once every eight years but allows reappraisal once every four years. Since 1995, Henderson County has conducted a reappraisal every four years. The county must assess 68,000 parcels. The effective date of the reappraisal is Jan. 1, 2019.

Who is responsible for the reappraisal?

The assessor, not the Board of Commissioners, is responsible for establishing the assessed value of property; the commissioners, not the assessor, sets the tax rate.
N.C. law requires counties to assess real property at its “true value in money, meaning market value.” The assessor sets market value based on “the most recent qualified sale” near the appraisal date. Sales between family members and other non-arm’s length transactions are excluded. Fair market value is what a house or other piece of property would sell for between a willing seller and “a financially able buyer.”

How does the assessor establish the value?

Henderson County uses a “mass appraisal” process that groups similar properties together based on location, type of construction, age, replacement cost, advantages and disadvantages, zoning and other factors. For property such as apartments or offices, the assessor may base the value on net operating income. The market approach takes into account an arm’s length sale of similar properties.

Are there exceptions?

Yes. The taxable value is lower when the owner is enrolled in the Present-Use Value Program for farm, horticulture or forestry use. There are also tax relief programs for the elderly, disabled and disabled veterans. Among uses exempt from property taxes are churches and other religious property, schools, nonprofit agencies and government buildings.

When will I get my Notice of Assessed Value?

It will be mailed on Feb. 12.

Can I appeal?

Yes. The first step is to file an informal appeal using the form included in your Notice of Assessed Value. (You can also get a form at the tax office or on line.) After an appraiser reviews the informal appeal, the tax office will mail the result to the property owner. An appeal could result in the assessed value “being left unchanged, reduced or increased.” The next step if the property owner is unsatisfied is to file a Formal Appeal with the county Board of Equalization & Review. The Board of Equalization & Review will meet as needed from April 15 to May 15. An appeal from the local board goes to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission. Appeals from the state Tax Commission go to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court.

What are grounds for appeal?

The assessed value exceeds or is substantially below market value or the property “has been appraised inequitably as it relates to the market value of comparable properties.” Reasons that are not grounds for an adjustment include the percentage change from the previous value, actual construction cost, the amount of taxes due, financial ability to pay taxes, insurance value or liquidation or salvage value.

Does the reappraisal apply in all taxing districts?

Yes. Cities and fire districts do not assess property for tax purposes. The county collects taxes for the fire districts and the part of the town of Saluda in Henderson County. Hendersonville, Fletcher, Laurel Park, Flat Rock and Mills River set their own tax rate and bill and collect property taxes in the municipality.

Will the county publish a revenue neutral tax rate?

Yes, by state law it has to. The revenue neutral rate is the tax rate the county would impose to produce the same amount of revenue it would have received had no reappraisal had occurred. In practice, that means if the gross taxable value of all real property goes up by, say, 10 percent, the revenue neutral rate would be lower than the current tax rate (56.5 cents per $100 value) by a corresponding amount. The Board of Commissioners, not the assessor, establishes the revenue neutral rate.

Does the Board of Commissioners have to adopt the revenue neutral tax rate?

No, it can adopt a lower or higher rate.

When will the Board of Commissioners and cities set the tax rate for their 2019-2020 budgets?

By June 30, 2019.

When will I get my property tax bill?

The bills are mailed in August and become due on Sept. 1, 2019. Property owners have until Jan. 5, 2020, to pay the property tax bill without interest.

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Sources: Henderson County Guide to 2019 Reappraisal, interviews.