|…on a south branch of White Oak on the south south side as follows. Beginning at a pine thence So67W 140 poles to a branch to three pines thence So7Et 120 poles to a post…to the beginning Containing 100 acres more or less.
A county mapper recently contacted me with a question and not surprisingly I had to learn the answer myself to provide an answer. I am not a mapper nor have I had the opportunity to work closely with mappers, so if you can add to this discussion, please do so below through “Leave a Reply”. While searching for the answer, some documents were revealed that I think will be helpful to others.
The issue involved a county that assesses land based on deeded acres, which may include road right of way. The question was whether there is guidance to help establish a county policy identifying assessment best practice regarding situations where deeded acreage may include road right of way or when deeded acreage varies from calculated acreage. The answer is, yes.
KISS is only one acronym or abbreviation for the minimalist approach I’m referring to in this post. Another popular way to put it is “less is more”. Maybe my favorite is “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
Try this online exercise. Go to Chapter 105 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Here’s a link. Once there, most browsers will allow a search feature. A common way to search in many software applications is to press the <Ctrl> key +F. Now search all of Chapter 105 for “tax administrator”. It doesn’t exist. But there are lots of tax administrators in North Carolina, right? Now search all of Chapter 105 for “tax supervisor”. The tax supervisor is referenced 9 times in the Machinery Act. And if you read the context of those references, there are a few important roles involved there. How many counties have a tax supervisor to fulfill these roles?
Although there are no deaths to avenge in this story, it can be a tragedy to lower a business personal assessment when it is not warranted. Reducing a value, is a de facto exemption. It is an expense to the county. Accounts (parcels) with the highest value in local governments are quite often business personal property accounts. When a BPP assessment is reduced without proper reason, it can create de facto classifications. This means your largest taxpayers could be assessed at a lower assessment ratio than the smallest residential taxpayers. That doesn’t sit well with me. There are certainly many variables to consider when faced with a request to lower an assessed value. Read on for this 5 act, I mean 5 question, blog post.
In a previous post, I mentioned objective and subjective data along with the NCDOR’s new reappraisal standards. That information will be helpful when reading this post. The new reappraisal standards have been in development for over two years and have involved committees with members from the NCDOR, UNC School of Government, and NCAAO. In August, the NCDOR emailed a draft of those standards to all assessors for review and comment. Some comments from local tax officials have been related to the need for additional staff in order to meet the new standards. Chapter 5 of Assessment Administration. Chicago, IL: IAAO, 2003 is a well written chapter detailing the management tasks needed for an assessment office to meet requirements and goals. This post focuses on how planning well includes an effective justification of the assessor’s need for staff and resources. Understand first that we all engage in planning almost every day. It’s either done formally or informally. So if we’re going to plan anyway, we should plan well and be exposed to the best practices. Regarding planning, Albert Einstein is rumored to have said, “If I had 20 days to solve a problem, I would take 19 days to define it.” Our objective in this post is really to turn staff and resource concerns into math problems, without requiring Albert Einstein’s help for the solution.
These new reappraisal standards, if followed, will alter your goals and plan objectives. For example, checking and updating property characteristics data at a designated level of accuracy is an example of a plan objective tied to the goal of meeting the NCDOR reappraisal standards. That objective requires specific activities. Activities require people and resources. We hope all local tax officials desire to do quality appraisal and reappraisal work for the public they serve. Our taxpayers deserve competency, fairness, and equity. No doubt, high standards are needed and the NCDOR should be applauded for issuing them. NCGS 105-273(10a) defines a local tax official as including a member of a county board of commissioners. And while all local tax officials most likely desire to do a good job and meet standards, raising standards undoubtedly can require more staff or other resources, which in turn requires adequate funding.
“[T]he budget becomes an expression of public policy in terms of the resources a government is willing to allocate for equitable property taxation. The budget is also a reflection of how much political support exists for accurate and equitable assessments. Legal and administrative responsibilities cannot be met if resources are inadequate.” Assessment Administration, 119.
This is the exact question that I was asked recently.
“Are all North Carolina, county, ad valorem, real estate appraisers subject to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP)?”
This could be a very short blog post. The answer to the question is, “no”. But a different question, “Should all North Carolina county ad valorem appraisers comply with USPAP?” leads to a more in depth discussion. The answer to that question is, “yes”. I believe if you act as an appraiser, you should comply with USPAP.
Tax Abatement, visual by Ruth Lerner
I’m here to help alleviate fears. In August 2015, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) issued GASB Statement No. 77, Tax Abatement Disclosures. The guidance, which if it were applicable to North Carolina governments, would be effective for fiscal year end June 30, 2017. The requirements are relatively simple – if a government has any tax abatement agreements, as defined in the standard, there are certain note disclosure requirements that must be made regarding the agreement(s). A tax abatement in is defined in the standard as follows: Continue reading
It is comforting to know that as assessors and appraisers, we speak the same language. We had a great learning experience last week in IAAO 331, Mass Appraisal Practices and Procedures. Our instructor was David Cornell, CAE, MAI. David is from New Hampshire and brought fantastic discussions to our group of 23 North Carolinians. The discussions and examples we experienced can be used for improving appraisal equity and uniformity in individual jurisdictions throughout our state. One of the items that we discussed was a worthy repeat from other mass appraisal courses: The importance of data in the assessor’s office. Not only do we need to collect the right data for model specification, but we have to collect it accurately.
At the upcoming NCAAO Fall Conference, the NCDOR will be conducting sessions on their new reappraisal standards, to be published later this year. Continue reading
There are many worthy assessment-related questions posed on PTAX and elsewhere that I hope we can address during the life of this new blog. But given our blog title, Death and Taxes, and a topic looming around us that some have coined Dark Stores, it seems like a dark and creepy coincidence to start right here.
Benjamin Frankin, (1706-1790) , North American printer, publisher, writer, scientist, inventor and statesman. Source: Wkipedia
Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789