WILLIAMSTON - Explanation given.

The Martin County Commissioners and the public heard a presentation from the Martin County Tax Assessor Elisha Hardison giving an explanation to several citizen concerns from the September meeting.

The concerns were over the unexpected increases and decreases of the tax value of homes recently sold in Martin county.

Before Hardison’s presentation, during the public comments , Martin County homeowner Bruce Turner questioned the recent changes to the tax value of his property.

According to Turner, the tax value of his home increased dramatically over the last six months without any major work being completed, and this not being a re-evaluation year.

Hardison provided a slideshow presentation, explaining the cause for the increases and decreases to local properties, and why the changes were legal in her opinion.

According to Hardison, re-evaluation was effective January 1, 2017. The next scheduled re-evaluation for Martin County will be Jan. 1, 2025.

She explained that each year in January property owners receive a Martin County annual real estate verification form. If property owners make any changes to the property in the previous year, he or she should indicate the type of changes and the percentage of the project complete.

The changes made to the property could cause an increase or decrease in the property’s value. Any appeals should be filed in writing prior to the adjournment of the Board of Equalization and Review.

During the month of August, homeowners should receive a bill from the Martin County Tax Office.

This year property taxes were due by Sept. 1. and are considered delinquent after Jan. 6, 2022.

If property values were not printed on the January listing form and the homeowner has not received a separate assessment notice, homeowners may appeal the property in writing by contacting the tax assessor within 30 days of the billing date on the notice. Otherwise the appeal period has ended, and no appeals will be considered.

According to Hardison, N.C. General Statue 105-287 explains the changing of appraised value of real property in years in which general reappraisal is not made

The North Carolina General Statue states:

In a year in which a general reappraisal of real property in the county is not made under G.S. 105-286, the property shall be listed at the value assigned when last appraised unless the value is changed in accordance with this section.

The assessor shall increase or decrease the appraised value of real property, as determined under G.S. 105-286, to recognize a change in the property’s value resulting from one or more of the following reasons:

• correct a clerical or mathematical error;

• correct an appraisal error resulting from a misapplication of the schedules, standards and rules used in the county’s most recent general reappraisal;

• recognize an increase or decrease in the value of the property resulting from a conservation or preservation agreement subject to Article 4 of Chapter 121 of the General Statues, the Conservation and Historic Preservation Agreement Act;

• recognize an increase or decrease in the value of the property resulting from a physical change to the land or improvements to the land, other than a change listed in subsection (b) of this section;

• recognize an increase or decrease in the value of the property resulting from a change in the legally permitted use of the property; and

• recognize an increase or decrease in the value of the property resulting from a factor other than the one listed in subsection (b)

In a year in which general reappraisal of real property in the county is not made, the assessor may not increase of decrease the reappraised value of real property, as determined under G.S. 105-286, to recognize a change in value caused by:

• normal, physical depreciation of improvements;

• inflation, deflation or other economic changes effecting the county in general; or betterments to the property made by repainting buildings or other structures, terracing or other methods of soil conservation, landscape gardening, protecting forests against fire or impounding water on marshland for non-commercial purposes to preserve or enhance the natural habitat of wildlife.

Next, Hardison explained what changes could be made to the property’s value if changed were found.

An increase or decrease in the appraised value of real property authorized by this section shall be made in accordance with the schedules, standards, and rules used in the county’s most recent general reappraisal.

An increase or decrease in appraised value made under this section is effective as of Jan. 1 of the year in which it is made and is not retroactive. The reason for an increase or decrease in appraised value made under this section need not be under the control of or at the request of the owner of the affected property.

This section does not modify or restrict the provisions of G.S. 105-312 concerning the appraisal of discovered property.

When a discovery is made, the assessor shall mail a notice to the person in whose name the discovered property has been listed.

The notice shall contain certain information including, the name and address of the person in whose name the property is listed, a brief description of the tentative appraisal of the property and/or a statement to the effect that the listing and appraisal will become final unless written exception thereto is filed with the assessor within 30 days from date of the notice.

Upon receipt of a timely exception to the notice of discovery, the assessor shall arrange a conference with the taxpayer to afford him the opportunity to present any evidence or argument he may have regarding the discovery.

Within 15 days after the conference, the assessor shall give written notice to the taxpayer of his final decision. Written notice shall not be required, however, if the taxpayer signs an agreement accepting the listing and appraisal. In cases in which agreement is not reached, the taxpayer shall have 15 days from the date of the notice to request review of the decision of the assessor by the board of equalization and review or, if that board is not in session, by the board of commissioners.

“Here is example number one. A house and lot appraised, as part of the county last general reappraisal on Jan. 1, 2017 at $200,000 that is $40,000 for the lot and $160,000 for the residence. In 2020, the county gets a report from the county building inspection department that a wood deck was added that cost $18,000. In 2021, the county reappraises the house with the new deck under the 2017 Schedules of Values at $212,000- $40,000 for the lot, $160,000 for the residence and $12,500 for the deck,” said Hardison.

Hardison also gave two other similar examples.

To put things into a different perspective, she also gave the following scenario.

“Real estate agent, Tom, lists a home for sale. It is a lovely home with many updates, including a total kitchen remodel, countertops, plumbing and appliances. Sally and Bob have been searching for a new home. They just fell in love with Tom’s new listing and purchased the home. Not even 30 days from the purchase of their new home, Sally and Bob receive a notice that their tax value has increase. This increase causes Sally and Bob’s house payment to increase by $75 a month. They are upset. Sally and Bob file an appeal with the tax assessors office. During the appeal, Sally and Bob learn the house did have a remodeled kitchen and bathroom. The seller failed to disclose the information,” Hardison explained.

According the records from the Martin County Tax Assessors Office, there were a total of 656 sale deed transfers in the county so far in 2021. There have been 1,208 parcels affected with the change of value for 2021 from 2020 in Martin County.

A reduction of $13,657,000 of value has been removed from properties during the 2021 tax year, and an increase of $24,544,000 of value has been added to properties during the 2021 tax year.

“If at any time after a general reappraisal is conducted as required by N.C. General Statue 105-286, the county assessor determines that a physical change to the land or tot he improvements on the land had increased or decreased the value of the property. The county tax assessor is required to reassess the properly,” Hardison said.

“The matter in which the assessor determines or finds the change does not matter. It can be through building permits, other taxpayers, the internet, a review of the property or the sale of the property can trigger the review. In fact, having a process in place to look at these changes in a non-reappraisal year would be following the requirements in the statues and a good practice, which would result in improved equity in assessment,” she closed.

Hardison said anyone with questions regarding the tax value on their property can contact her office at 252-789-4352, by email at elisha.hardison@martincountyncgov.com or at www.martincountyncgov/assessor.com.

Leslie Beachboard can be reached via email at lbeachboard@ncweeklies.com.

Leslie Beachboard is Managing Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and The Enterprise. She can be reached via email at lbeachboard@ncweeklies.com.