In the past, some Guilford County residents who have five-decade-old junk cars that barely run in their driveways have gotten huge tax bills because at one time Guilford County treated all old cars as if they were fully restored antique or vintage automobiles.

The taxpayer could appeal the value assigned by the Guilford County Tax Department, but some may not have realized that and others may not have wanted to go to the trouble.

Thankfully, now the department’s policy is a lot more forgiving.

According to Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis, a vehicle in Guilford County must be 30 years old or older in order to be considered “antique or vintage.”

Chavis stated in an email, “The vehicles can be assessed at a low, middle or high value. Guilford County assesses each vehicle separately at the middle value in the NADA National Auto Dealers Association) Classic Car Guide to be fair and equitable with all taxpayers who own vintage vehicles. Once taxpayers receive their annual request for plate renewal from the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, they have 30 days from the bill date to appeal the value per North Carolina General Statute 105-330.2(b1).”

Chavis added that the appeal information is printed on the back of the renewal.

In the past, the department automatically valued old cars at their restored value, which led to some head scratching by taxpayers who wanted to know why they were being billed large amounts in taxes for an old clunker in their driveway. One Guilford County resident wasn’t pleased at all when he had a 1980 Chevrolet pickup truck worth perhaps $1,000 and found that the Tax Department had valued it at more than 10 times that – $11,150.

Chavis said that, once the vehicle becomes 30 years old, the NC Department of Motor Vehicles places it in a “vintage or antique” in the state’s computer system to be valued by each North Carolina county.

Guilford County reviews and assesses about 1,000 vintage and 50 antique vehicles manually each month.

If a resident disagrees with the valuation, they can appeal to the Tax Department by calling, emailing or writing by a letter.

“Once the taxpayer appeals to the Tax Department,” Chavis wrote, “they have several options.  They can send us pictures of the inside and all four sides of the outside of the vehicle through the mail or email. In addition, they can bring the vehicle to one of our two office locations for us to view and note the condition. After our review we will make a determination as to the value of the vehicle by using the NADA Guide noted above.”

Pat Miller, the Guilford County Assistant Tax Director overseeing personal property, provided some of the history.

“In August of 2016 the NC Department of Revenue started separating out vintage, antique, and collectible vehicles in the electronic files that are submitted to NC counties.” Miller wrote in an email.  “To date, we have revalued 46,484 vehicles in Guilford County that fall into this category,” noting that most of those vehicles were found to be undervalued.

Miller stated that the Guilford County Tax Department is following the uniform appraisal standards of NC General Statute 105-283.

“We have tried to address these question as they arise,” Miller wrote.  “Our department has been auditing these categories of vehicles on a monthly basis using the values assigned by the NADA Collectible Car Guide. We use this guide as we use all NADA Guides to ensure that all citizens who own vehicles in Guilford County are treated fair and equitable.”

Taxpayers have 30 days from the bill date to appeal their vehicle’s assessed values.