Written by: Brendan Baker and Greg Bergdale
If you own property in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, you should be preparing now for the upcoming reappraisal that will be effective for the 2023 tax year. Mecklenburg County had originally planned to send new value notices in January but now expects to send them in March. The deadline to file a formal appeal remains on May 25th, so taxpayers will have a reduced amount of time to act on any assessments they believe may be incorrect.
Mecklenburg conducts a revaluation once every four years, so the values assessed for 2023 will generally be locked in until 2027. We expect most taxpayers will see a sizeable increase in their valuation compared to their 2019 values, regardless of industry.
The impact on your current and future tax liabilities is substantial. Property taxes are not only one of the largest line items affecting net operating income (cash flow), but they can also have a material impact on the valuation of property for collateral underwriting or potential disposition. It is imperative that these new tax assessment values reflect the most recent changes to the market and be accurate in relation to fair market value. They should also be “fair and equitable” when compared to similar properties throughout the jurisdiction. As such, it’s important that these new assessment values be scrutinized by someone well-versed in assessment practices as well as familiar with current market activity and market prices.
Without question, this will be the optimal time in which to impact change in the assessment for the next four-year cycle. Whether that’s calling the assessor’s attention to unique nuances of your property, challenging factual errors in the assessment record card, bringing to their attention functional or external obsolescence issues impacting your property, and/or providing other valuation-related evidence for this review.
Time is of the essence for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that this initial notice of reappraisal will create a flurry of activity in Mecklenburg County. Upon initial mailing, it is typical for thousands of appeals to be filed. As such, the assessing authorities are motivated to reconcile legitimate issues, address credible concerns, and resolve as many disputes as possible.
While you will have the opportunity for a more formal appeal to the county-level Board of Equalization and Review, it would be unwise to not take full advantage of the informal review process as well. Most assessors are receptive to credible and relevant information and will work cooperatively with the taxpayer to achieve fair and accurate assessments. Thus, it is highly recommended that you be prepared to review and evaluate your property tax assessment as soon as it is received.
Given the reduced window of opportunity provided by Mecklenburg for the first level of appeal, if you aren’t proactive in determining your property’s value and what an accurate assessment should be, then you may find yourself at a disadvantage once the notice is mailed and the clock has already started ticking on your rights. Knowing that this event is coming, it is advisable to act now and eliminate the need for fire drills or the stress created by having to make decisions with a sense of urgency.
While you are not necessarily precluded from appealing your assessment in future years, practical experience indicates that both the assessment staff and the BOERs may be somewhat reluctant to make significant changes in the middle of a reappraisal cycle. Failure to protest an initial assessment in the first year of the revaluation can be perceived as agreement with, or acceptance of, the county’s original appraisal. Additionally, you must always argue or prove the value as of the last revaluation period, meaning in a future tax year you will be making a retroactive valuation case. While this is certainly possible, it can be more difficult—both for the appellant to present and the adjudicator to accept. Now is the time to prepare.