Frequently Asked Questions

What is taxable Property?

Personal Property includes unlicensed motor vehicles, boats, campers, permanent tagged trailers, singlewide manufactured homes and doublewide manufactured homes not on a permanent foundation, and airplanes. Anyone who owns any of these must list them with the Tax Department during the month of January each year. (Manufactured homes located on land owned by the owner of the mobile home will be considered real property.) If a Property Tax Listing form is not received in the mail, please call the Tax Department to request one. You can also download a Personal Property Listing Form (866 KB) our website. A 10% late list penalty will be charged for anyone not listing the required property with the Tax Department before the end of January.
Licensed Motor Vehicles and Trailers are listed automatically when you register or renew your motor vehicle or trailer registration through the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. Each month the Department Of Motor Vehicles sends to each County Tax Office a list of every person in the county who has registered a motor vehicle or a trailer. A licensed trailer includes any trailer that requires a registration, such as boat trailers, animal trailers, utility trailers, camping trailers and motor homes. Taxpayers receive a separate tax bill for each licensed motor vehicle or trailer about 3 months after it is registered.
Business Personal Property includes machinery, computer/office equipment, airplanes, unlicensed vehicles, leasehold improvements, leased equipment, supplies, furniture, fixtures, farm equipment, etc. Listing 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 by January 31st. Listing forms are mailed to taxpayers in early January. If you have business personal property, but did not receive a listing form, please call the Tax Department at 250-4930 or download the Business Personal Property Form (2.63 MB) or Business Listing Exemption Request Form (341 KB) from our website.

Real Property includes land and structures or improvements on the land including doublewide manufactured homes on a permanent foundation and other manufactured homes located on land owned by the owner of the mobile home. A system of automatically listing real property in Buncombe County is made possible through the coordinated efforts of the County Planning Department, Permits and Inspections, Land Records and the Register of Deeds.

The Tax Department will attempt to automatically list all improvements for which a permit was granted. Taxpayers, however, are still responsible for insuring any new construction completed during the previous year is properly listed by the Tax Department. This must be done before the end of January each year.

How is Property valued?

Personal property and real property are valued by using different methods. Personal property such as some manufactured homes, campers, boats and trailers are valued according to size, model and year. The value is assessed as of January 1st each year. These properties must be listed each January by the owner. If you do not receive a listing form in early January, please call 250-4920 or email teresa.proffitt@buncombecounty.org to request a form.
Motor vehicles are valued by year, make and model in accordance with the "NC Vehicle Valuation Manual" used by all 100 Counties in North Carolina. Vehicle value is assessed as of January 1st preceding the due date. For example, if you receive a vehicle tax bill due in October, 2012, the value placed on the vehicle is the estimated value as of January 1st, 2012.
Business personal property such as computer/office equipment, machinery, farm equipment and etc. is valued on a cost basis using "Trending Schedules" developed by the NC Department of Revenue. Trending schedules depict replacement cost new less depreciation.

Every four years, the Buncombe County Tax Department completes a reappraisal of all real property in the County. This process is called "Reappraisal." The purpose of reappraisal is to comply with North Carolina General Statutes which require property to be valued, or appraised, at its current market value at least every eight years and to insure all taxpayers are taxed fairly and equitably. Values are placed on real property using either one or a combination of the following appraisal approaches:

  • The sales comparison or market approach. This approach compares the selling prices of similar properties and places a value on those properties based on actual selling prices. This approach is the most accurate when there are a number of sales occurring.
  • Cost approach. Values are determined on what it would cost to replace a similar property at current building costs minus depreciation based on a variety of factors and the age of the property. This approach is best used for unique properties or newer construction.
  • Income approach. This approach is used primarily on income producing properties such as apartment buildings or business offices. Revenues are analyzed to determine a net operating income. This income is then capitalized to determine a value for the property.

Reappraisal

Reappraisal is a systematic, in depth process using a computer aided mass appraisal 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.

Additionally, utility companies are taxed based on the overall ratio between assessed value and market value. If the countywide sales/assessment ratio is below is below 90%, then the utilities are taxed at only 90% of value rather than 100%. The resulting lost revenues from the utility companies shifts more of the tax burden to local home and business owners. Ultimately, the purpose of reappraisal is to have each property carry its appropriate share of the expense to provide County services to its citizens while allowing the lowest possible tax rate.

A countywide reappraisal is an enormous and complex task. We are fortunate to have a qualified and knowledgeable in-house appraisal team in Buncombe County. They are all residents of the local area who are very familiar with property in the County. They have made every effort to consider all the many factors involved in determining property values through the completion of the reappraisal 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.

Of course, no matter how thorough and fair a reappraisal 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, an "informal appeal form" is provided for your initial appeal. The form must be completed and returned to the Tax Department prior to April of the year in which the appeal is being made. Please include any documentation, i.e. photographs, sales records, appraisals, you may have. We will thoroughly review and consider your appeal. If you have marked on the appeal form that you want a face to face meeting, we will contact you to schedule a time convenient for you. Remember, you can appeal only property values, not property taxes, through this process.

Adjustments to values will be made based on a reanalysis of appealed property. Once you are notified of the results of the reanalysis, you have the option of accepting the value or appealing further. The next step in the appeal process is to appeal to the "Board of Equalization and Review." The Board of Equalization and Review is a special board appointed by the County Commissioners and consists of long time Buncombe County residents who have a solid real estate or business background and are quite familiar with local real estate values.

If you are still dissatisfied with your property values, 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 issues locally among people who are most familiar with property values in Buncombe County.

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

Senior Citizen and Disability Assistance

North Carolina excludes from property taxes the greater of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) or fifty percent (50%) of the appraised value of a permanent residence owned and occupied by a qualifying owner. Claimant must be a North Carolina resident, 65 years of age or totally and permanently disabled (physician's statement required), and has a combined income of both spouses for the preceding year not to exceed $27,100. Anyone who meets these requirements can download an Exclusion Form or request one by calling 250.4920. Applications should be filed prior to June 1 to insure the exclusion is granted for the current tax year.

Videos

Elderly Property Tax Exemption Informational Video

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.

Additional Exemption Information

To apply for an exemption, an application must be filed with the Tax Department during the regular listing period, which is the month of January. To receive an application or learn more about exempt property, please call 250-4940 or email linda.brown@buncombecounty.org.

Land Use Program

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 forestry products. A forestry management plan is required for acceptance into this program.

To apply for the Land Use Program, or learn more about eligibility requirements, call 250-4940 or email linda.brown@buncombecounty.org.

Tax Rates

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 or department submits an annual operating budget to the county manager. The county manager submits a recommended total budget to the county commissioners for their consideration. In June, the Board of Commissioners reviews the budget, conducting public hearings to get citizens' input. By the end of June, the commissioners adopt the budget. The budget is divided by the tax base value to determine a tax rate. The tax rate is based on amounts per each $100 in value. Of course this process is not as simple as it sounds; many laborious hours are spent analyzing the budgets and county programs to arrive at a budget that will provide the most cost efficient services to Buncombe County.

A similar process is completed for each municipality and fire district. The whole process is usually completed by the end of June and the county commissioners and town boards establish new tax rates in July. Once the tax rates are established, taxpayers receive a consolidated tax bill, usually in August, which includes Buncombe County, fire district, Asheville Schools, City of Asheville, Town of Black Mountain, or the Town of Woodfin, depending on the location of the property.

Listing Property

All taxable property must be listed. See the Taxable Property section at the top of this page to find out what property is taxable.

The month of January is the annual required listing period. Anyone who does not list their taxable personal property (see "What is Taxable Property" section) by January 31st will be charged a 10% late list fee. January 1 is the established date for determining property ownership. All taxable property is valued as of January 1 of the current year. Everyone pays property taxes for the whole year based on what they own on January 1. With the exception of registered motor vehicles and trailers which are prorated when sold, taxes are not prorated or exempt because you relocate within North Carolina or dispose of the property anytime after January 1. The full amount of taxes is due for the entire year based on ownership and property value as of January 1 of the current year. But, you only 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 year.

Vehicles

Motor vehicle bills are mailed approximately three months after the license plate has been issued or renewed.

If you wish to appeal the value of your vehicle, you will need to furnish the following information to the county tax department within thirty (30) days from the billing date:

  1. If recently purchased from a dealer, a copy of the bill of sale.
  2. One appraisal stating the average retail value as of January 1st of the taxing year. This appraisal must be from a licensed vehicle dealer. The Vehicle Appraisal Form (24 KB) is in Adobe .PDF format and can be downloaded from our website. You need one copy for each vehicle that you are appealing.
  3. Mileage reading – odometer statement from the most recent vehicle inspection or vehicle service receipt.
  4. If wrecked, bring an appraisal indicating extent of damage and cost to repair and when the accident took place.

You are billed for the vehicle you owned on the date of registration. If you have purchased a new vehicle and transferred your tags from the old vehicle to the new one, then the tax on the old vehicle would be due in full. You would not receive a tax bill on the new vehicle until you renew your registration on the old tag. However, if you sold your vehicle AND turned in the tag to the DMV, you should send a copy of the receipt from DMV to the Tax Department within 1 year in order to qualify for a release or refund.

If your vehicle taxes become delinquent, our office will issue a renewal block to the Department of Motor Vehicles. DMV will not send a registration renewal in the mail and you will not be able to renew your registration until the bill is paid in full. Once the bill is satisfied, our office will automatically remove the block.

Licensed Motor Vehicles and Trailers are listed automatically when you register or renew your motor vehicle or trailer registration through the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. Each month the Department Of Motor Vehicles sends to each County Tax Office a list of every person in the county who has registered a motor vehicle or a trailer. A licensed trailer includes any trailer that requires a registration, such as boat trailers, animal trailers, utility trailers, camping trailers and motor homes. Taxpayers receive a separate tax bill for each licensed motor vehicle or trailer about 3 months after it is registered.

Real Estate

Tax notices (bills) are mailed in early August each year and are due on September 1st. There is, however, a four month grace period that allows you to pay your taxes up to the following January 5 before interest is added. In effect, January 5th is the deadline for paying property taxes.

The owner of the property as of January 1st of the current tax year is responsible for taxes for the entire year, unless the property changes ownership during the tax year.  If there is a change of ownership, the owner of record on the following January 6 or date interest begins and any subsequent owner will be held liable for any unpaid real estate taxes.

The Tax Department does not prorate real estate taxes; this should be handled between the buyer and seller at the time of the sale. The Tax Department will attempt to send the bill to the January 1 owner of record as well as any subsequent owners.  Tax liens against the property will stay until the taxes are paid in full.

Property Tax Payments

The most convenient way to pay your taxes is to use the self addressed envelope you received with your bill. Also, you may pay your bills in person at the Tax Department on 35 Woodfin St. or you can use the Tax Bill Drop Box. Our convenient payment drop box is located in the driveway of our 35 Woodfin St. location. There will be signs to direct you.

Credit card payments may be made only through the telephone or the Internet. If paying by telephone, call 1-888-2PAY-TAX (1-888-272-9829) this is a toll free call. Enter Jurisdiction Code 4301. To pay a vehicle bill, press 1; to pay any other property tax, press 2. Enter all information as prompted by the automatic voice phone system. You will receive a receipt number when your transaction has been completed.

If you choose to use the Internet to pay by credit/debit card or electronic check go to our Online Tax Payment Section. Follow the instructions as prompted for a convenient way to pay your taxes.

There is a small convenience fee charged for credit/debit card. If you choose to pay by electronic check, there is no fee for amounts less than $10,000. The fee will be clearly identified to you and allow you an opportunity to continue the transaction or to exit if you choose not to pay the fee.

Please mail any correspondence relating to the assessment of real estate, motor vehicle values, mobile home valuation, and any other concerns or appeals in value assessment to:

Buncombe County Tax Department
35 Woodfin St. Ste. 207
Asheville, NC 28801-3015

Please mail any correspondence relating to collections to:

Buncombe County Tax Department
35 Woodfin St. Ste. 204
Asheville, NC 28801-3014