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Revaluation appeals reach 2,280 amid drop in pace of new filings

The flood of revaluation appeals that slammed Alamance County’s tax office seems to be subsiding as area property owners recover from the initial shock of the county’s latest mass reassessment in January.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the county’s tax office had received 2,280 appeals of the revaluation’s results, which attempted to recalibrate the county’s tax values to match the gains which the local real estate market had seen since the latest property tax revaluation in 2017. This figure, which amounts to about 3 percent of all the taxable parcels in Alamance County, represents an increase of less than 58 percent since February 15, when the tax office had logged 1,444 revaluation appeals.

According to Alamance County’s tax administrator Jeremy Akins, the tax office has completed its initial administrative review of 1,035, or about 45 percent, of all the appeals that it has so far received. Of those completed cases, just 119, or about 11 percent, continue to be disputed by the property owner.

“We’re happy with this,” Akins went on to say of these figures on Wednesday, “as we continue to trend toward a total appeal rate of approximately 5 percent (half of what we expected). We’re also encouraged by the low rate of disagreement, which is currently tracking toward 15 percent.”

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Any property owners who object to their new tax values have until May 5 to file appeals with the county’s tax office, which initially reviews these submissions at the staff level.

The tax office advises anyone who lodges an appeal to provide evidence that the county’s assessors had, indeed, erred in their calculations of a property’s value.

“Just like during trial in court, evidence is king,” the tax office declares in its online guide on How to File an Effective Appeal. “Our appraisers, as well as the members of the board of equalization and review, can only make decisions based on the evidence that is presented to them.”

The tax office goes on to note that acceptable evidence can either be structural, such as deterioration that would lower a home’s resale value, or comparative, like the sale price per square foot for another comparable property if it doesn’t quite jibe with the tax office’s value for the property under appeal.

In either case, the tax office may agree to revise a property’s tax value based on the evidence that a property owner may bring to bear.

If the office’s staff rejects an appeal, or if the revised value still doesn’t suit the property owner, he or she can then take their case to the county’s board of equalization and review, which is expected to begin hearing revaluation appeals on April 6. If a property owner finds the board’s ruling unacceptable, he or she can appeal to the N.C. Property Tax Commission and ultimately to the state’s court system, where the case could potentially rise as far as the N.C. Supreme Court.

The tax office has been conducting its staff-level appeals hearings under the shadow of a property tax rate that’s currently set at 65 cents for every $100 of property value. The board of commissioners has indicated that it will ultimately reduce this rate to a “revenue neutral,” or break-even, level – which Akins has tentatively put somewhere in the neighborhood of 43 cents. Even so, the commissioners don’t expect to make the new rate official until they approve the county’s next annual budget in May or June of this year.

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