Property tax bills in Guilford County have been sent and by now the vast majority of people have received a bill much higher than last year.

Social media sites lit up with comments about the “massive” tax increase and many of the comments indicated that people were not clear about why their tax bill dramatically increased.

Several commenters blamed the increase on new developments others indicated it was just the natural order of things after a revaluation.

The simple answer is that property owners in Guilford County and Greensboro are paying about 30 percent more in taxes because the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and the Greensboro City Council wanted more money to spend and raised taxes.

It’s how they raised taxes that is confusing, and even more confusing for people in Greensboro who are paying about a 30 percent increase in city property taxes because the City Council wanted to raise spending by about $60 million and needed more money.

Guilford County collects the property tax for Greensboro, so that people receive one tax bill, which includes both their Guilford County taxes and their Greensboro taxes.  It’s a much more efficient system than having Greensboro collect its own taxes. Guilford County also collects the taxes for property in Guilford County and in the municipalities of High Point, Jamestown, Kernersville, Oak Ridge, Pleasant Garden, Sedalia, Summerfield, Whitsett, Archdale and Burlington.

Property values in Guilford County have increased by about 30 percent since the last revaluation in 2017, but that doesn’t mean that tax bills have to increase.  After a revaluation, Guilford County and municipalities are required by state law to inform the public of the revenue neutral tax rate.  This is the tax rate that would raise the same amount of revenue as if the revaluation had not taken place.  In 2017, when Republicans had the majority on the Board of Commissioners, the revaluation did not result in a tax increase because the commissioners lowered the tax rate to the revenue neutral rate.

In Greensboro in 2017, the City Council kept the same tax rate, which resulted in the equivalent of a 2.11 cent tax increase.

In 2022, Guilford County did not lower the tax rate to the revenue neutral tax rate, which is 59.64 cents, but kept the tax rate at 73.05 cents, which resulted in the equivalent of an unprecedented tax increase of 13.41 cents.  The result is the county will collect about $92 million more in property tax revenue.

Greensboro did lower the tax rate by 3 cents, but the result was the equivalent of an 8.69 cent tax increase.

So property owners in Greensboro are being hit with a double whammy – a county tax increase equivalent to 13.41 cents and a city tax increase equivalent to an 8.69 tax increase.

The fact that the county didn’t increase the tax rate and the city lowered the tax rate by 3 cents provides some cover for the elected officials – and confused a lot of property owners.  However, in a revaluation year it is the revenue neutral rate that should be used to compare tax rates.