Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a business?
A business is a commercial activity engaged in as a means of livelihood or profit, or an entity which engages in such activities.
For example: buying and selling goods, making products, or providing services. The basic forms of business ownership are: sole proprietorship, corporation, Limited Liability Company and cooperative.
- What is Business Personal Property?
Business Personal Property consists of items that are used in the course of conducting business. It includes the following: machinery and equipment, office furniture, fixtures, computer equipment, leasehold improvements, construction in progress (CIP), spare parts, supplies, untagged vehicles, multi-year / permanent tagged trailers, IRP plated vehicles, watercraft, aircraft, mobile homes, and office trailers. Information on leased property must also be provided.
- How is Business Personal Property assessed?
The taxpayer provides the original purchase price of each item as well as the year in which it was purchased. Using this information, Tax office staff then applies depreciation factors made available by the NC Department of Revenue to the items.
- When is the Business Personal Property listing due?
Business Personal Property listings are due during the month of January. If not filed by January 31 due date, a 10% late listing penalty will be assessed according to NC General Statutes.
- May I file for an extension of time to list?
You may request an extension for good cause by January 31. You may request the extension by letter or online.
- Can I file my business listing online?
Online listing is not currently available. You may mail your listing to us or drop it off at the Tax Office or email the Business Listing department.
- How should I fill out the supplies section of the listing form?
In this section, list the cost of the supplies that you have on hand on January 1. This includes such items as: office, maintenance, janitorial, medical, dental and professional supplies; beauty and barber supplies; fuel; equipment spare parts; and hotel/motel supplies. If you are not sure of the supplies on hand January 1, the NC Department of Revenue recommends that you report 1/12 of the total supplies you purchased during the year.
- I do not have any changes from last year, so do I still have to list?
Yes, it is required by NC General Statutes that you file a complete listing form each year during the month of January.
- Do I have to list used assets that were purchased?
Yes, you must list all assets used in the business. If available, the original cost and purchase date by the original owner should be used when listing used assets. If not, list in the year acquired for the cost that you paid.
- What is CIP?
CIP stands for Construction in Progress. It is business personal property located in Gaston County on January 1 which is under construction or has been acquired but not yet installed or operational.
- Do I have to apply in person?
For these exclusions, the qualifying homeowner may submit an application by mail to:
Gaston County Tax Department
P.O. Box 1578
Gastonia, NC 28053
Or in person at the Tax Department. For further information, please call 704-866-3158, ext. 6.
- How can I show that I am 100% totally and permanently disabled?
You must furnish a certification (Application for Property Tax Relief - AV9 Certification of Disability (PDF)) that you are totally and permanently disabled. This certification must be signed by a licensed physician. NOTE: A physician’s assistant signature will not be sufficient. The agency must have the proper authority to determine qualifications for disability benefits. If you or your spouse are over 65 years old, you do not need to submit a certification of disability.
- What happens if I apply and qualify for the Circuit Breaker Deferred Tax Program for one or more years and in the future I no longer qualify or I fail to submit the required annual application?
Until a disqualifying event occurs, the deferred taxes will not become due. Since incomes can vary from year-to-year, it is possible that you may qualify one year, but not the next, and then re-qualify in a subsequent year.
- What is considered “income” and how much can I make and still qualify for the Circuit Breaker Tax Deferment Program?
Income is defined as all moneys received from every source other than gifts or inheritance from a spouse, lineal ancestor, or lineal descendant. Income includes money received from social security, disability, retirement and rental income. The income limit may be found on the current year’s application. This threshold is adjusted annually for cost-of-living.
- What types of personal property am I required to list?
You are required to list the following:
- Unlicensed Vehicles (Untagged/Expired Tag)
- Vehicles with International Registration Plates (IRP/Apportioned Tag)
- Trailers with permanent/multi-year tags
- Mobile Homes
- If I own personal property, do I have to list it every year?
Yes, under North Carolina General Statutes you are required to list the property every year. Personal Property can be sold or moved anytime. The listing process informs our office what personal property you own and is located within Gaston County on January 1. Our office is not automatically notified by anyone when property is sold so the listing must be completed to notify us.
- When should I list my personal property with the tax office?
The month of January is the month when personal property is to be listed each year. Personal property must be listed by January 31st of each year to avoid a 10% late listing penalty.
- Who is responsible to list and pay taxes on personal property?
The January 1st owner is required to list and pay property taxes on personal property for the entire year. North Carolina General Statutes do not allow personal property to be prorated.
- How is personal property assessed and may I appeal the assessment on my property?
Personal property is assessed at fair market value as of January 1 each year. If you do not agree with the assessment of your personal property, you may appeal the value within 30 days from the date of the bill. Your appeal must be in writing and contain a description of your disagreement and include any documentation to support your appeal.
- If I register my boat with North Carolina Wildlife, must I still list it with the Tax Office?
Yes, you must list the boat with the Tax Office. The North Carolina Wildlife does not automatically list the boat for you when it is registered.
- What does situs mean?
The situs of property is the place where the property is permanently located. We need this information to be sure you are taxed in the correct county, city, and fire service district.
- What is reappraisal?
Reappraisal is a process where all property (land and buildings) within a taxing jurisdiction (in this case Gaston County) is reappraised to its current market value as of an established date. North Carolina law requires all counties to conduct a property reappraisal at least every eight years to determine market value.
- How are properties assessed?
All property (homes, commercial and land) is visited and observed by a Gaston County appraiser to:
- Verify the accuracy of characteristics on record for the property,
- Compare similar property sales and
- Consider improvements or changes that have been made to the property.
- Why is Gaston County reappraising properties?
North Carolina General Statute 105-286 requires all counties to conduct a reappraisal at least once every eight years. Gaston County's last reappraisal was performed in 2019. The goal of reappraisal is to distribute the overall tax burden throughout the County in a way that is fair and equitable, and based on current property values.
- What is the benefit of reappraisal?
Property taxes are based on property values. Without periodic reappraisals, some property owners would pay more than their share of property tax while others would pay less. Reappraisals reset property tax values to their current market value so that the property tax burden is spread fairly among all taxpayers.
- What is Market Value?
According to North Carolina General Statute 105-283, Market Value is defined as "the price estimated in terms of money at which the property would change hands between a willing and financially able buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell." The Gaston county assessor’s office analyzes the local real estate market and uses that information to develop our estimates of market value.
- How does reappraisal affect my taxes?
Reappraisal and taxation are separate. Reappraisal determines the market value. The Gaston Board of County Commissioners and local jurisdictions (cities and towns) determine tax rates during the annual budget process in late spring. The value of your property combined with the tax rate determines your property tax bill, which is mailed in late July.
- Who assesses my property? How are they trained?
Assessor’s office staff are certified to perform property reappraisals by the N.C. Department of Revenue. They are well-trained with decades of experience. Appraisers must meet certification requirements. The Assessor’s office also has an internal quality control division that monitors all aspects of the process.
- Does reappraisal cause gentrification?
The reappraisal values are modeled after the market transactions that have already occurred, i.e. sales that have taken place. The Assessor’s Office follows the market, it does not set the market.
- Is Gaston County inflating property values to raise money?
Reappraisal is required by North Carolina law and is supported by sales across the County. The County and City will publish a revenue neutral tax rate for review during the budget cycle this spring.
- Does Gaston County conduct a reappraisal only at the peak of the market?
No. The County has moved to a four-year revaluation cycle and will reappraise in 2023. Market value is established at that time.
- What is a licensed motor vehicle?
A licensed motor vehicle is any motor vehicle that maintains an active North Carolina tag and registration. The term “motor vehicle” includes automobiles, trucks, buses, campers, RV’s, trailers, and motorcycles.
- How is the value of a vehicle determined?
An assessor must appraise a motor vehicle at its true value in money. The sales price of a vehicle purchased from a dealer, including all accessories attached to the vehicle, is considered the true value of the vehicle, and the assessor must appraise the vehicle at this value.
The Property Tax Division of the NC Department of Revenue annually adopts a schedule of values to be used when vehicles are not purchased from a dealer and for registration renewals. This ensures equitable statewide valuations. The system allows for adjustments for high mileage and below-average condition.
- May I appeal the value?
The owner of a vehicle may appeal the appraised value of the vehicle by filing a request for appeal (Gaston County Motor Vehicle Appeal Form (PDF)) with the Tax Office within 30 days of the date the taxes are due. An owner who appeals the appraised value must pay the tax on the vehicle when due, subject to a full or partial refund if the appeal is decided in the owner’s favor.
- Who pays the taxes on a leased vehicle?
The person or company leasing the vehicle will be mailed the combined tag and tax notice and will be responsible for paying the taxes.
- Is interest charged on late payments?
Yes. NC law requires that interest be charged on late vehicle property tax payments and registration renewal fees.
- Will I receive a tax refund or owe additional tax if I transfer my license plate to another vehicle during the year?
No. If you have paid your vehicle property tax for the year and then transfer the license plate to another vehicle, you will not be eligible for a refund of any taxes paid. The registered motor vehicle to which the plate is transferred will not be taxed until the current registration is renewed.
- When can I apply for a refund of vehicle property taxes paid?
An owner can apply for a refund of taxes paid when a vehicle is sold or registered out of state and the NC license plate is turned in to a NC license plate agency. The owner must present the following to the county tax office:
- Proof of plate surrender to NC DMV (DMV Form FS20).
- Copy of the Bill of Sale or the new state’s registration.
- My Tax & Tag Combined notice shows taxes for a city or fire district that I do not live in. What do I do to get this corrected?
Please contact the Tax Office at (704) 866-3199.
- My Tax & Tag Combined notice shows taxes for a county I do not live in?
You must have this corrected at a NC License Plate Agency or contact NCDMV at 919-814-1779.
- I received a Tax & Tag Combined notice on a vehicle that I've already sold. What do I do?
If you no longer own the car and have turned in the license plate, you may ignore the invitation to renew and tax bill. If you have transferred the plate to another vehicle, DMV can create you a bill for the new vehicle. Contact NCDMV at 919-814-1779.
- Does Gaston County do Tax Deed Sales?
No, Gaston County offers Tax Foreclosures instead of Tax Deed or Tax Lien sales. Unlike other counties in NC, Gaston County does NOT allow you to pay someone’s taxes in full in exchange for ownership of the property.
- Where are sales conducted?
The sales are held in front of the Gaston County Courthouse (325 Dr. Martin Luther King Way, Gastonia, NC 28052).
- How much deposit is required day of the sale?
A 20% deposit of the highest bid is required to secure the bid payable in Cash or Certified funds. Checks are to be made out to The Gaston County Sheriff’s Office.
- Will Gaston County accept written or telephone bids?
No, you must be present to bid on the property.
- Where can I upset the bid on a property?
All Upset Bids must be placed with The Gaston County Clerk of Court – located on the first floor of the Gaston County Courthouse.
- How long is the Upset Bid period?
The Upset Bid period is 10 days, day 1 being the date of the sale. Weekends are counted in the 10 days, however, if Day 10 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, the next working day is counted as Day 10. The 10 days restart with each upset bid.
- What is the required deposit for an Upset Bid?
The required deposit is 5% or $750 of the next bid – whichever is greater.
- I won the bid, how long do I have to bring final payment?
If you are the winning bidder, you will have 10 days to bring the remaining funds to The Gaston County Tax Office. The remaining funds are to be paid in Cash or Certified Funds with checks payable to The Gaston County Sheriff’s Office.
- What kind of deed do I receive with the property?
You will receive a Sheriff’s Deed for the property. All properties are sold as is. Bidders get the property in fee simple; there are no warranties or guarantees.
- Will I owe anything outside of the final payment if I win the Bid?
Yes; you are responsible for all excise tax and recording fees. The current excise tax is $2 per $1,000 based off the sale price. You may also be subject to the current year taxes or other liens. It is your responsibility to do your own research on the property you are bidding on.