How To Dispute Your Real Estate Revaluation Notice | Nexsen Pruet, SARL
Have you recently received a notice of real estate revaluation? Wake County, along with 10 other counties in North Carolina, recently reassessed their entire property for ad valorem tax purposes. In Wake County, property values have increased 20% for residential properties and 33% for commercial properties.
These property values will remain in effect between 4 and 8 years, depending on your county’s reassessment schedule. In Wake County, a reassessment is done every 4 years. In other countries, the next reassessment may not take place for 8 years. This is important because it means that your tax assessment will be blocked until the next county reassessment. If you don’t appeal within the reassessment year – within the prescribed time frame – you’ll be stuck with the new county assessed value until the next reassessment.
Typically, counties send out their reassessment notices in the first two weeks of January. Sometimes revaluations are incorrect, and it is essential that you understand the process for contesting your property’s revaluation.
First, you need to review the revaluation notice to make sure it is accurate and that the revaluation reflects the fair market value of the property in question. Fair market value is the most likely price for which a property would be traded in a competitive and open market. Revaluation values are determined by comparing the selling prices of similar properties, replacement costs and potential income or the highest and best use of the specific property. Often, land that has undergone improvements, such as adding utility infrastructure, can see a sharp increase in value. But there may be other factors that county assessors did not consider that could mitigate these increases.
If the county’s re-appraisal of your property does not reflect fair market value, you should initiate the informal appeal process by contacting the county appraiser’s staff. The informal appeal process in the state’s counties usually takes place between February and March. The informal deadline to file informal reassessment appeals with the Wake County Assessor is May 30, 2020. The earlier you file your informal appeal, the better your chances of success. During this meeting, you can report errors, provide comparisons, or explain factors the county appraiser did not consider when appraising your specific property. Often, the informal appeal process can offer taxpayers the best opportunity to obtain a reduction in the assessed value.
Then, in the event that the county assessor’s office does not review the assessment, you must file a formal appeal with the County Equalization and Review Board (E&R Board). This review board is a special county commission appointed to deal with taxpayer appeals in property tax matters. This level of appeal is more formal, with the taxpayer being allocated specific time to present their case and the county also having time to present their point of view. The E&R Board may decide to decide the appeal immediately or choose to delay its decision and deliberate further.
Requests for a hearing before the E&R Board must be made in writing or by appearance before the adjournment date published by the E&R Board. In Wake County, the adjournment date is May 30, 2020. Failure to make a request for an appeal for a hearing before the Board of E&R will result in the dismissal of the appeal request. The result of a termination is that the property of the taxpayer involved will remain at the county’s reassessment appraisal until the next appraisal (typically 4 to 8 years).
When filing informal appeals and formal appeals with local equalization and review boards, it is beneficial to have legal representation, as attorneys often have developed relationships with county assessors and attorneys and are also aware of the statutory and administrative nuances of the law. In addition, obtaining legal representation helps the taxpayer avoid the many pitfalls of the appeal process.
Finally, if the taxpayer’s assessment is confirmed by the Board of E&R, then you can appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission (Commission). The Commission is like a court of first instance. Like any trial court, it is required to follow North Carolina rules of evidence. When a taxpayer appeals, the taxpayer has the burden of proof. Taxpayers can present their own cases to the commission, but are encouraged to hire a lawyer. After the commission, a taxpayer can appeal a decision of the commission to the state appeals court and state supreme court, but these bodies may choose not to hear the case because the grounds of appeal are more limited.
 Other North Carolina counties with a reassessment in 2020 include: Bertie; Cabarrus; Carteret; Cherokee; Dare; Halifax; Madison; Montgomery; Pamlico; and Pitt.