Lincolnton – Lincoln County Tax Director Susan Sign and her staff have been busy preparing for the county’s real estate appraisal.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “We track the market and follow sales since the last resale. The last countywide revaluation of Lincoln County real estate was in 2019. The revaluation took place on January 1, 2023. About a year ago, we began reviewing all real estate in the county.”
Sain has been with the Lincoln County Tax Service for 26 years now. She started her job at the Reassessment Office and stayed there for 18 years before being appointed as a tax officer.
Lincoln County has more than 51,000 real estate parcels. Of those parcels, 91.47% are for residential purposes, 4.14% are commercial, 1.21% are industrial and 3.18% are exempt, according to Sen.
“Our office is on time for revaluation notices reflecting newly assessed values to be mailed to all property owners in February 2023,” Sen said. “It’s up to the commissioners to decide the tax rate. Each year, they look at income and expenses. Then they set the tax rate. That’s something I think a lot of people don’t understand. Just because the appraised value of their property has gone up, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to pay more taxes.” It depends on the tax rate. There is one thing they need to remember, which is a state law that we have to follow.”
Personal property, such as vehicles, trailers, boats, planes, farms, and/or unmarked work equipment, that are appraised each year.
“This difference in the way real and personal property is valued has an impact on how much tax you will pay before and after the revaluation,” Senn said. “It is necessary to equalize values periodically to ensure that all property bears its fair share of the tax burden—no more, no less.”
Real estate appraisal is subject to North Carolina’s general laws, which require each county to revaluate real property (land, buildings, and other permanently affixed improvements) at least every eight years. The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution ordering a revaluation every four years to reduce the shift in values that would occur over an eight-year period.
These same laws require counties to uniformly value real property at its real money value. This is interpreted as the estimated price at which property can pass between a willing and financially able buyer and a willing seller, who is not compelled to buy or sell and both have reasonable knowledge of all the uses to which the property is adapted and to which it can be used.
“Property taxes are an important source of income for the county,” Sen said. “Revenue is necessary to fund schools and vital services such as fire protection, law enforcement, public health, social services, and more. The amount of property tax billed is assessed based on the value of your property and the tax rate as determined by county commissioners during their annual budgeting process. …the governing bodies of our counties, city, and counties of fires determine expenditure priorities for their respective jurisdictions. These governing bodies will also determine the amount of revenue that will be available from all sources other than property tax and determine the resulting tax rate based on the budget needs of local governments after considering all other sources.”
The informal appeal process begins on the date notifications of evaluation are mailed up to 30 days. The Equivalency and Review Board begins formal appeals in April. County officials usually set tax rates by June. Tax invoices are generally mailed in July, allowing taxpayers to take advantage of the 2% discount offered through August 31. Tax invoices are “due” on September 1 and are considered late if they are not paid by January 6 of the following year.
Appraisers are currently reviewing all parcels and analyzing market sales data from 2019 through 2022. Should our appraisers have questions, they will visit the properties to confirm the data if necessary.
“Our goal is to be transparent, provide great customer service and do everything we can to keep everyone informed, while following state guidelines,” Sen said. “If you have questions regarding the 2023 reassessment process, please feel free to call our Evaluation Department at (704) 736-8670.”