The property or ad valorem tax is the primary source of revenue for local governments. Property tax revenues are used to operate schools and pay for vital services such as fire protection, law enforcement, public health, and more.
The amount of property tax you pay is based upon the value of your property and the tax rate as determined by your local government. The Tax Assessor’s Office determines the assessed value of all taxable property in the county. The Board of Commissioners and the governing bodies of our cities and towns determine the spending priorities for their respective jurisdictions. The governing bodies will also determine the amount of revenue that will be available from all sources other than the property tax. The resulting tax rate is based upon the budgetary needs of the local governments after considering all other sources of revenue.
The Forsyth County Tax Assessor/Collector administers the property tax for the county, Bethania, Clemmons, Kernersville, Lewisville, Rural Hall, Tobaccoville, Walkertown, Winston-Salem and portions of High Point and King as well as all fire protection districts.
North Carolina law requires each county to reappraise real property (land, buildings and other improvements) at least every eight years. The law allows counties to reappraise more frequently at its discretion. Forsyth County has generally performed reappraisals every four years since 1988, which lessens the shift in values that occur over an eight-year period. The law also requires counties to appraise real property uniformly at its true value in money. True value in money is “the price estimated in terms of money at which the property would change hands between a willing and financially able buyer and seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of all the uses to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used” (NCGS 105-283).
The Tax Assessor’s Office reviews every sale of real property recorded since the last reappraisal. Our appraisers utilize a market area by market area approach to the reappraisal, analyzing only the sales within or close by each market area to the greatest extent possible. Some sales are “disqualified”, such as those between family members, related corporations, gifts, etc. as these sales usually do not represent market value. The needs and compulsions of buyers and sellers obviously influence sale prices. Analyzing all recent sales allows the Tax Assessor's Office to account for unusual circumstances such as those described above and develop a uniform schedule of values, standards and rules that can be applied to all properties. The application of the schedule may not exactly match every recent sale price; however, the schedule insures that each parcel of real property will be treated uniformly.
The assessed value utilized in calculating your 2020 tax bill was determined by the application of the Schedule of Values, Standards and Rules used in the 2017 reappraisal. The 2021 Schedule of Values, Standards and Rules will be used to determine your new assessed value, which is effective for January 1, 2021. This means the change in value that will be shown on your reappraisal notice occurred over a four-year period. Real estate values have changed since 2017. Property values generally do not change consistently throughout the county. The primary reason for a reappraisal is to periodically re-equalize property values to preserve uniformity and equity within the tax base.
Real property in Forsyth County was last reappraised in 2017. Personal property, such as automobiles, trucks, trailers, boats, business equipment, etc. is listed and appraised every year. This difference in the way real and personal property is valued has an effect on the amount of taxes you will pay before and after a reappraisal. This is because the same tax rate is applied to both real and personal property in North Carolina. Personal property values are not affected by reappraisal; therefore, a lower tax rate will reduce the amount of tax levied on personal property.