As most of you have heard the 2011 Haywood County Tax Assessments are out. Some have gone up and some have gone down. Here are a few of the frequently asked questions about the tax assessment.
Why are Haywood County real estate properties reappraised?
North Carolina law requires a reappraisal of real property at least every 8 years. Depending on the growth rate, many counties choose to conduct a reappraisal in a shorter time frame to reduce the potential burden on property owners. The Haywood County Board of Commissioners voted in 2000 to conduct reappraisals every four years, beginning with the 2002 reappraisal. The last reappraisal was conducted in 2006 and the next one is scheduled for 2011.
Who appraises real property?
Property appraisal is conducted by the Real Property Appraisal staff of the Haywood County Tax Assessor's office. These appraisers are certified as real property appraisers by the North Carolina Dept. of Revenue.
How are property values determined?
Haywood County appraisers begin by verifying and updating data files by making onsite visits to your property. The appraiser then compares the property to similar properties and determines a market value based on what is going on in the local real estate market. Using knowledge of the local market, as well as standard methods of analyzing comparable properties and factors that affect values, the appraiser applies the current Schedule of Values adopted by the Board of County Commissioners. Comparable properties should appraise at a rate similar to comparable properties on the market, taking into consideration specific factors that may lead to adjustments up or down.
When does a new appraisal value go into effect?
New appraisal values become effective in January, so they are reflected in the tax bills you receive in September of the years that reappraisals occur.
Does a reappraisal mean that my property taxes will change in accordance with the new value of my property?
That depends. As part of adopting a budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, the Board of County Commissioners must set a tax rate. In a year following a reappraisal, state law requires the county to publish a revenue-neutral tax rate in the budget presented to county commissioners in May.
A revenue-neutral tax rate means that the county would not see any additional revenues from an increase in real property values. Instead, the revenue-neutral tax rate represents what it would take to produce revenues for the county that are equal to those produced for the current fiscal year, taking into consideration such factors as an average annual percentage increase in the tax base, among other things.
Following the 1996 property reappraisal, commissioners lowered the tax rate from .74 cents to .61 cents for every $100 of value. It stayed at 61 cents for every $100 of value following the 2002 reappraisal until the 2006 reappraisal. On March 6, 2006, commissioners voted to adopt a revenue-neutral tax rate of .497 per $100 of value for the purposes of planning the 2006-07 fiscal year budget. The tax rate remained at .497 through the 08-09 fiscal budget year. The commissioners adopted a .514 per $100 of value for the 2009-10 budget year. This is the current tax rate for Haywood County.
So, does that mean that a revenue-neutral tax rate will cancel out the effect of a property reappraisal and my taxes will stay the same?
Not necessarily. All it means is that the county will not gain additional revenue from the reappraisal. Whether your individual tax bill goes up in September depends on your particular situation.
While real property often go up with reappraisals, the value of your personal property, such as boats, campers, mobile homes, business personal property and your vehicles declines each year. If county commissioners adopt a revenue-neutral tax rate during a reappraisal year, the taxes you pay on your personal property and business personal property will go down. Whether it will go down enough to balance out the effect of the increase in value on your real property depends on how much personal property you own.
If I do not agree with a reappraisal I've received, do I have any recourse?
Yes. Each March, in accordance with state law, the Board of County Commissioners appoints a Board of Equalization and Review to hear appeals from Haywood County citizens regarding the value placed on their real property.
To request a hearing before this board, write a letter to Judy H. Ballard, Clerk; Haywood County Board of Equalization and Review; Haywood County Courthouse; 215 N. Main Street; Waynesville, NC 28786. Citizens may also request a hearing by filling out an appeal form at the assessor's office.