With four dates having already been held to hear county tax appeals, the fifth and final date is fast approaching, and applications can be accepted up to and on that day, May 8.
Tax administrator Jim Johnson said the Board of Equalization and Review — the Sampson County Board of Commissioners serves in that capacity in this county — started meeting last week, holding hearings April 23-24, and continued this week on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hearings have extended from 1 to 6 p.m. on those dates.
A final date remains, next Wednesday, May 8.
“There’s one appeal scheduled and hopefully we’ll be finished up for this year,” said Johnson. “So far, we’ve seen 40 to 50 appeals. Last year, that number was well over 80 and the year before that, the revaluation year, we had somewhere between 120 or 130. It’s gone down every year we’ve gone away from reval.”
All residents have the opportunity to speak to the Board of E&R and contest their property values, but by appointment only.
“Within 30 days of May 8th they are notified by the board regarding the outcome of their appeal,” said Johnson. He could not put a specific number on the amount of residents who have had their property tax values modified, or the percentage of successful appeals, but said the burden lies with the property owner.
“At this point, the county’s property values are assumed to be correct,” the tax administrator noted. “They would have to provide proof that the value should have been different, or there was a clerical error, as of Jan. 1, 2011. For the most part, unless they provide proof there shouldn’t be a change to the current appraised value.”
A change to the tax bill is only made if the property owner can demonstrate the appraised tax value is more than the market value. That usually only comes with an independent appraisal that contradicts the county-placed value, or some other form of relevant, tangible evidence that the property appraisal is too high.
“The burden is on them at this point,” said Johnson. “They’re contesting the values as of Jan. 1, 2011. They have to offer some form of concrete proof.”
He added that the mass appraisal done as part of the 2011 revaluation was an outside assessment, with nothing on the inside of the home taken into account. A discrepancy such as the number of floors or amount of space can be grounds for a change in value. And, while there are always some of those type of errors, many if not all have likely been rectified — thus the declining number of appeals, Johnson noted.
“Each session, you should see the number of appeals go down,” he said.
Even the initial number that came to the Board of E&R in 2011 was likely a decrease from the amount of property owners who had concerns. “There might have been 300 to 400 people at (contract firm for Sampson’s revaluation) Pearson Tax Appraisers,” said Johnson.
By state law, the Board of E&R is required to complete its duties on or before the third Monday following its first meeting or by July 1. Final tax bills are sent out at the end of July and the beginning of August.
Johnson reminded residents that those wishing to file an appeal based on their assessed value can still do so even when the appeals are underway. “Somebody could file an appeal right up to 6 p.m. on the 8th,” he said.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.