FAQs

Yes, under certain circumstances, you may be eligible for reduced taxes if you meet the requirements specified in the North Carolina General Statutes. A brief description and the basic requirements are described under this section.

Tax Relief for Elderly and Permanently Disabled (“Homestead Exemption”)
Property tax laws exclude the greater of $25,000 or 50% of the value of your home and land up to and including 1 acre of land from the total assessed value of property owned by residents of North Carolina who reside in this residence and who meet the following requirements:

  • Must be 65 years old or older, or totally and permanently disabled. (If not 65 years old or older, but permanently disabled, you will need certification from a physician licensed to practice medicine in North Carolina. It is essential that the certificate state your disability is total and permanent. This form will be supplied by the Tax Office).
  • Total annual income coming into the home must not exceed $27,100. (income is defined as all money coming into your home except inheritances received from a spouse, ancestor or descendant or gifts. For married applicants residing with their spouses, the income of both spouses must be included even if only one is an owner of the property.)

Anyone who meets these requirements can request an exclusion form by calling 798-7300. Applications should be filed prior to June 1 to insure the exclusion is granted for the current tax year.

If the June 1st deadline is missed, you may still return the form and appropriate information to our office. We will be required to submit your application to the Board of County Commissioners for their approval. You will need to write a letter, addressed to the Board of County Commissioners, explaining why the form is late.

Exempt Property
North Carolina General Statutes allow for certain types of property to be exempt from property taxes if they meet the requirements specified by the statutes. Some types of exempt property may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Property used for religious purposes.
  • Property set aside for burial.
  • Property used for educational, scientific or literary purposes.
  • Property used for charitable purposes.

To apply for an exemption, an application must be filed with the Tax Administrator during the regular listing period, which is the month of January. To receive an application or learn more about exempt property, please call 798-7300.

Land Use Programs
The North Carolina General Assembly enacted the “Land Use Program,” which allows reduced tax values for individually owned property used for agriculture, horticulture or forestry. Basic eligibility requirements follow:

  • Agriculture: Agricultural land consisting of one or more tracts, one of which consists of at least 10 acres that is in actual agricultural production and that, for the 3 years preceding January 1 of the year for which the benefit is claimed, has produced an average gross income of at least $1000.
  • Horticulture: Land consisting of one or more tracts, one of which consists of at least five acres that is in actual production and that, for the three years preceding January of the year the benefit is claimed, has either produced an average gross income of $1,000 or been used to produce evergreens intended for use as Christmas trees and meet gross income requirements.
  • Forestry: Forestland consisting of one or more tracts, one of which consists of at least 20 acres that is in actual production and are not included in a farm unit. A forestry management plan is required.

To apply for the Land Use Program, or learn more about eligibility requirements, contact our office at (910) 798-7300.

We do not accept debit or credit card payments at our office. You may pay your tax bills by credit card to Official Payments. To pay by credit card you can either call 1-800-2PAY-TAX (1-800-272-9829) or visit them at www.officialpayments.com. There is a convenience fee for this service that is collected by Official Payments.

The responsibility of the Tax Department is to value all taxable property in the county. The total value of all the property in the county is called the tax base. Each county agency and/or department submits an annual operating budget to our County Budget Department. This information is forwarded to the County Manager who submits a recommended total budget to the County Commissioners for their consideration. The Board of Commissioners, along with the Budget Department and the County Manager, review the budget and the tax base to determine a recommended tax rate. This is also done to establish a fire district tax. Of course, this process is not as simple as it sounds, many hours are spent analyzing the departmental budgets, county programs, and outside agencies to arrive at a budget that will provide services to the citizens of New Hanover County.

Each municipality completes a similar process. The whole process is usually completed by the end of June and the county commissioners and town boards establish new tax rates by July 1. Once the tax rates are established, taxpayers receive a consolidated tax bill, usually in August, which includes their county and fire district tax if their taxable property is only within the county boundaries, or their county and municipality taxes which are the City of Wilmington, Kure Beach, Carolina Beach, and Wrightsville Beach, depending on the location of the property.

In conducting mass appraisal, the appraisers are generally guided by three basic approaches for analyzing the value of properties. They are:

* The Cost Approach

* The Market (Sales Comparison) Approach

* The Income Approach

The Cost Approach, which is the best suited of the three approaches for the valuation of real property in the “mass appraisal” process, serves as the primary valuation method in New Hanover County. The Cost Approach, estimates the replacement cost new  of the property, or the cost to build a structure of equivalent utility (functionality). The estimates are based from costing manuals and local contractors. From that, an estimate of total accrued depreciation (physical, functional, external) is observed, calculated and deducted from the cost estimate to generate the depreciated replacement cost new. To that, land valued separately is then added to get an estimate of the fair market value of the property.

The Market approach to value compares the property being appraised  with similar properties sold in the past.

The Income Approach  is the process of estimating the value of an income-producing property through capitalization of the annual net income expected to be produced by the property.

The Market and Income Approaches each analyze the value of the whole property. In order to derive a building value estimate from either of these indications of value, the value of the land must be subtracted from the total value. Should the Market or Income Approach, or both, thus indicate a very low contribution for the buildings, the land may be mis-improved (the buildings will no longer represent the highest and best use of the land). The appraiser may be required to apply an appropriate significant amount of Functional or Economic Obsolescence.

If two or three of the approaches indicate significantly different values, the appraiser who reviews the components of each approach usually finds additional factors that must be considered. Not all properties are a candidate for the application of all three approaches.

The Tax Administrator’s Office is required to divide every parcel’s appraised value into its components (land and building). However, the somewhat artificial allocation of a given parcel’s total value (final market value) into its land and building components must not be compared to a similar allocation of total value in any other appraisal opinion. Any such comparison is invalid.

Should an owner elect to appeal a value, only the total value is in question – not its components.

The primary system tools employed by the appraisers in establishing “true value” for all real property are:

* the detailed computer assisted mass appraisal algorithms (Appendix 1 – Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) Modules);

* a detailed explanation of the terms used in the algorithms (Appendix 2 – Glossary of Terms);

* detailed explanations and definitions of the numerous attributes and codes used in the algorithms (Appendix 3 – Appraisal Attribute Code Definitions); and,

* the actual rates and allowable values to be applied to the algorithms (Appendix 4 – Control Tables for the Schedule of Values)

All vehicle values must be appealed informally in writing within 30 days of the date of the notice. Grounds for appeal would be, but are not limited to, excessive damage, poor condition or excessive mileage. Proof must be submitted to prove the condition of the vehicle as of January 1.

The owner of personal property (see explanation under Personal Property above) as of January 1st of the current tax year is responsible for taxes for the entire year. Real estate taxes are not pro rated either but are usually handled between the buyer and seller at the time of closing. You should refer to your closing statement to see if provisions for property taxes were made at that time. Most attorneys pro rate the taxes on real estate on a calendar year basis and depending on the time of year the closing is processed determines whether the taxes are paid to the tax department directly or if the seller pays the buyer their portion of the taxes and then the buyer is responsible for payment of the entire tax bill to the tax office. The tax bill is sent to the owner of record when the bills are processed. The January 1st owner’s name will appear on the tax bill but it will be sent to the new owner if there is a change in ownership. The reason for sending the new owner the bill is if these taxes are not paid, a lien is placed on the property and any action as described above will be taken against the current owner.

Of course, no matter how thorough and fair a revaluation may be, there are still instances when only the property owner has all the information necessary for an accurate appraisal. That is why there is a relatively easy appeal process. First, complete the appeal form received with the revaluation notice and return it to the Appraisal Office. The appraiser responsible for your area will discuss your concerns after reviewing the back-up used during the revaluation of your property. We will make any corrections that are appropriate based on the review or make no changes. You have the right to appeal that decision, in writing, to the Appraisal Supervisor, who will review the file and respond to you with the results of that review. If you still do not agree with the value you will be provided a “Valuation Complaint Form”, from the Appraisal Office, to complete. This will be an appeal to the New Hanover County Board of Equalization and Review which appointed by the Board of County Commissioners. Appeals must be submitted prior to the convening of the Board of Equalization and Review which meets between the first Monday in April and the first Monday in May. It is incumbent upon the appellant to prove that the assigned value is incorrect.

If you are still dissatisfied with your property value after being heard by the Board of Equalization and Review, the next step is to appeal to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission in Raleigh. Very rarely is this step required. From the Property Tax Commission, you may appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and finally to the North Carolina supreme Court. Again, these appeals are very rare since every effort is made by the Tax department to resolve our issue locally among people who are most familiar with property values in New Hanover County.

You can appeal your value by clicking here.

Revaluation is a systematic, in depth process using a Computer Aided Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system to reappraise or reassess all real property in the County to the current market value. (Appraised value and assessed value can be used interchangeably in North Carolina because property is required to be assessed at 100% of its appraised value.) The real estate market is one of constant change caused by the freedom we have to buy and sell property. This change can vary greatly depending on a property’s size, type and location. This can create an inequitable situation in the level of assessment among owners of property and inequity among differing types of property.

The longer this situation exists, the more unjust it becomes. The end result is an unfair tax burden on those properties which have an assessed value close to the actual market value compared to those properties whose assessed value is well below market value. The relationship between assessed, or tax value, and market value is called the sales/assessment ratio.

A countywide revaluation is an enormous and complex task. We are fortunate to have a qualified and knowledgeable in-house appraisal team in New Hanover County. They are all residents of the local area who are very familiar with property in this County. They have made every effort to consider the many factors involved in determining property values through the completion of the revaluation process. Field inspections are conducted, sales files are developed and analyzed and market trends continually monitored. Contacts are made with property owners, local realtors, building contractors, building suppliers and home lending institutions, all for the purpose of being as knowledgeable as possible about property values.

Personal Property
Personal property includes motor vehicles, boats, campers, trailers, singlewide mobile homes with wheels & axle attached and airplanes. Anyone who owns any of these items on January 1, (excluding licensed motor vehicles) must list them with the Tax Department during the month of January each year. If a property tax listing form, also known as an abstract of taxable property, is not received in the mail, please call our office at (910) 798-7300 to request one. A 10% late listing penalty will be charged for anyone not listing their required property with the Tax Department before the January 31st deadline. If January 31st falls on a weekend the next business day will be the deadline.

Licensed Motor Vehicles
Licensed motor vehicles and trailers are listed automatically when you first register or renew your motor vehicle or trailer registration through the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Business Personal Property:
Business personal property includes machinery, computer/office equipment, airplanes, unlicensed vehicles, leasehold improvements, leased equipment, supplies, furniture, fixtures, farm equipment, etc. which are used for a business. Listings must be submitted during the month of January to avoid a 10% late listing penalty. However, an extension can be granted until March 15, if the request is made in writing and is postmarked or hand delivered to the Tax Department by January 31st or if January 31st falls on a weekend the first business day following the 31st. Business property statements are mailed to all business’ who listed the previous year or for anyone who has requested a form. If you have business personal property, and do not receive a listing form, please call the Info Center at (910) 798-7300 and request a form be mailed to you.

Real Property
Real property includes any structures or improvements on land including doublewide and single-wide mobile homes on the land of the same owner with it’s wheels & axles removed. You do not have to list real property each year only improvements made to the property. Real Property is permanently listed in New Hanover County so you no longer have to list real property each year. However, you must still list improvements made to the property.

Any improvements made during the previous year must be listed during the regular listing period which is the month of January. If you have made improvements to your property and did not receive an abstract, a form can be requested by calling (910) 798-7300 or you can write to the Tax Administrator’s office and ask us to list for you. This letter must include your name and mailing address, the address of the property, the type of improvement made and the percentage of work completed as of January 1. Someone from the appraisal office will visit your property and identify improvements which have been made. That information will be entered into the tax data base to calculate a value using the adopted schedule of values in effect for the most recent revaluation.

The effective date of our current revaluation is January 1, 2012. Anytime we make a change in your value, you will be notified in writing. If you do not agree with this value, you should contact our Information Center at (910) 798-7300 and they will arrange for you to discuss your value with an appraiser. The next revaluation is scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2017.

You may appeal your value in any year between January 1 and the adjournment of the Board of Equalization and Review. The Board of Equalization and Review meets between the first Monday in April and the first Monday in May of each year.

The month of January is the annual required listing period. Anyone who does not list their taxable personal property (see section “What is Taxable Property”) by January 31st will be charged a 10% late list fee. January 1 is the established date for determining property value and ownership. Everyone pays property taxes for the whole year based on what they own on January 1, with the exception of motor vehicles and trailers registered with the NC Department of Motor Vehicles. Vehicle taxes can be prorated when the vehicle is sold or a taxpayer moves out of state and surrenders their license plate to the NCDMV. All other taxes are not prorated or released because you relocate within or out of North Carolina or dispose of the property anytime after January 1. The full amount of tax is due for the entire year based on ownership and property value as of January 1 of the current year. You list in one county each year. If you move to another county in North Carolina after January 1, you will not file a “Property Tax Listing” form in that county until the following January.

Tax notices (bills) are mailed in August each year and are due on September 1st but payable until January 5th (the next business day if the 5th falls on a weekend) of the next year to avoid legal action. Partial payments are accepted prior to the delinquent date. Interest begins January 5th at a rate of 2% and increases by 3/4% each month thereafter. Delinquent taxes are subject to immediate garnishment, foreclosure, or seizure of property. Unpaid taxes are advertised between the months of March and April.

The most convenient way to pay your taxes is by mail. You can send your payments to the post office box in Charlotte which is on the bill you receive in the mail, or mail them directly New Hanover County Tax Office, PO Box 18000, Wilmington, N.C. 28406. You may also pay your bills in person in our Collections Office, at the above address, between the hours of 7:30 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.

Tax: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 190 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7300 • Fax 910-798-7310 • Email taxadmin@nhcgov.com