Sticker shock.

That’s a phrase used by Guilford County tax officials each time property values across the county are revalued and property owners have to pay taxes based on those new valuations.

 Every five years in Guilford County, property owners get their property revalued by the Tax Department. That almost always means a higher valuation and a higher tax bill – and, come July of 2022, a lot of Guilford County residents who don’t even realize a revaluation has been taking place are going to be very unhappy with their new higher bills.

Over the last two years, housing prices in North Carolina and Guilford County have skyrocketed, so a lot of people may be shocked when they see that new sticker price the Tax Department has slapped on their home. 

Some counties in the state, like Durham County, have approved new programs meant to help financially challenged property owners pay their bills since those bills will be higher in the midst of a pandemic.

The Durham County Tax Office, working with the Durham County Department of Social Services, has launched a “Low-Income Homeowners Relief Program“ to help low-income homeowners who’ve owned their home for at least 10 years.  In order to be eligible for a property tax bill subsidy, homeowners have to pull in less than 30 percent of the average median income in that county. The maximum award granted will be $750, and the money can only go toward tax bills.

Those applying need to show proof of residency and proof of household income.

But what if you live in Guilford County and can’t pay? 

Well, too bad.  You better find a way to pay your higher tax bills. 

Almost all property values in Guilford County will be higher in 2022 than they were in 2017, and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston has already made it crystal clear that he expects to keep the county’s tax rate the same this year.

By leaving the tax rate where it is, the county expects to raise more than $55 million in extra property tax revenue over the current fiscal year.  The last time the county had a revaluation, the Board of Commissioners was controlled by Republicans who lowered the tax rate to compensate for the higher property values.  That is, the board held the county “revenue neutral.”  It brought down the tax rate to a point where the property tax revenue would be substantially equal to what it was the previous fiscal year.

Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis said this week that, right now at least, there’s no program in Guilford County similar to the one in Durham County.

“I’ve heard about this program in Durham,” Chavis said. “ I don’t know of anything in the works in Guilford.”

Read: Prepare to pay your full tax bill no matter what your income.

Chavis said that, in Guilford County, about 60 percent of the Tax Department’s accounts have taxes escrowed. 

While there’s no formal relief program in Guilford County, as there is in Durham County, the Guilford County Tax Department will allow payment plans with some people.

“We examine each case based on individual circumstances and work with the customer accordingly,” Chavis said. “The collector is charged to collect delinquent taxes utilizing all collection remedies under the general statute by the end of the fiscal period.”

Chavis said that right now he’s focused on making sure everyone pays up for the 2021-2022 fiscal year that ends June 30.

“We’ll see what the new fiscal year brings,” he said, “but my main objective now is to close out this fiscal period strong.  Our collection percentage is  96.99% as of January 31.”