Real Property Exemptions & Exclusions

North Carolina General Statutes allow for certain types of property to be exempt from property taxes. Exempt property may include but is not limited to the following:

  • Property used for religious purposes
  • Property used for burial purposes
  • Property used for educational, scientific, or literary purposes
  • Property used for charitable purposes
  • Historic properties
  • Brownfield
  • Builders Exclusion

The exempt status is not automatically attached to the property because of ownership alone.

A timely application is to be submitted between January 1 and January 31. Late applications will be accepted for review if the Board of Equalization and Review approves the reason for the late submission.

If the property is approved to receive tax exemption, periodic audits will be conducted to ensure requirements are still being met.

Religious Property Exemption Guidelines 

G.S. 105-278.3

  • Property must have a religious purpose that pertains to practicing, teaching, and setting forth a religion. (Worship)
  • Religious Ownership must be one of the following agencies:
  • A congregation, parish, mission, or similar local unit of church or religious body. A conference, association, presbytery, diocese, district, synod or similar unit comprising local units of a church or religious body.
  • Exemptions may be granted for residences of clergy, rabbis, priests or nuns assigned to or serving a qualifying owner.
  • Exemptions may be granted for residences who provide guardian, janitorial, and custodial services for such a property.
  • Parking for the religious organization can be granted exemption.

Charitable Property Exemption Guidelines 

G.S. 105-278.6

  • Property must have a charitable purpose that has humane and philanthropic objectives. It is an activity that benefits humanity or a significant rather than limited segment of the community without expectation of pecuniary profit or reward. The humane treatment of animals is also a charitable purpose.
  • Charitable Ownership must be one of the following agencies:
  • YMCA, or similar organization, home for the aged, sick or infirm, an orphanage or similar home, SPCA, reformatory or correctional institution, monastery, convent, or nunnery, a nonprofit life-saving, first aid or rescue squad organization, a nonprofit corporation providing housing for individuals or families with low income.

Educational, Scientific, and Literary Property Exemption Guidelines 

G.S. 105-278.7

  • Property must have an Educational Purpose. An educational purpose is one that has as its objective the education or instruction of human beings: it comprehends the transmission of information and the training or development of the knowledge or skills of individual persons.
  • Property must have a scientific purpose. A scientific purpose is one that yields knowledge systematically through research, experimentation or other work done in one or more of the natural sciences.
  • Property must have a literary purpose. A literary purpose is one that pertains to letters or literature (including drama), especially writings, publishing, and the study of literature.
  • Educational, Scientific, or Literary Ownership must be one of the following: charitable, historical, scientific, or literary association or institution. A veterans' organization or association. A benevolent association or institution or a nonprofit community or neighborhood organization.


  • If the property is owned by a taxable entity as of January 1, the property will remain taxable the entire year regardless of change of ownership.
  • If the property is exempt as of January 1 and sold to another qualifying tax-exempt entity, the new owners have sixty (60) days from the date of the property transfer to apply for the exemption in order for the property to remain exempt.
  • If a tax-exempt entity sells the property to a taxable entity BEFORE July 1st, the property will be taxed the entire year
  • If a tax-exempt entity sells the property to a taxable entity AFTER July 1st, the property will remain tax-exempt for the current tax year but become taxable as of January 1 of the following year.