Tax revaluations: Let's hope process runs smoothly, fairly

Apr. 11, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

There are supposed to be only two things certain in life — death and taxes. There's a third, of course, for many of us: property tax revaluations.

The regular revaluation of real property probably doesn't top many people's lists of the worst things to be feared, but it's something North Carolina residents can expect from their individual counties at least every eight years.

There will always be those who disagree with the process, but the notion of regular tax revaluations makes common sense — especially when property taxes are part of the equation.

Citizens shouldn't have to pay more in taxes than their actual property value dictates. If a property rises in value, the law suggests people should expect to pay more for that added value. On the other hand, if a property decreases in value, lower taxes should be the appropriate answer.

It's not an easy task for any county because the best way of judging appropriate values are through looking at recent sales. Even then, it's not an exact science, and questions and disagreements always result. That's why there's an appeals process, both informal and formal.

The informal appeals statistics from the last revaluation in 2007 to 2013 are most interesting. The total number of assessed parcels rose from 30,486 in 2007 to 31,274 in 2013, with 1,367 informal appeals in 2007 compared to 1,730 in 2013. That's a jump in the ratio of revaluations appealed from 4.49 percent to 5.53 percent, which shows the two revaluation years are yielding similar results in the informal appeals process.

What's more telling is the difference between residential and commercial appeals between the two years in question. In 2007, 91.51 percent of the appeals were for residential properties and the remaining 8.49 percent were for commercial properties. Residential revaluations in 2013 make up 83.29 percent of the appeals while commercial property appeals jumped to 16.71 percent of the total.

Among the individuals who filed informal appeals was Lee-Moore Capital Company President Kirk Bradley, who told The Herald he had filed 10 informal appeals.

Bradley said of the local tax department, "I do feel like they were responsive. I am not sure they got it all the way where they should be, but I give them credit for that."

No doubt, the Lee County Tax Administration Department faces a tremendous task in putting together the revaluations — and then going through the appeals process. The county's Board of Equalization and Review, which is getting ready to kick off its work, will be busy in sorting out the formal appeals.

Let's hope this process runs smoothly — and most of all, fairly — for all involved.