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Frequently Asked Questions

Business Personal Property
Homestead Exclusions
Individual Personal Property
Present Use Value Assessment Program
Real Property Exemptions
Registered Motor Vehicles
Tax Foreclosures


Business Personal Property

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 are 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 at https://egov.gastongov.com/TaxListingExtension/.

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, Room 117.

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.

I received a Discovery Notice in the mail. What does this mean?
A Discovery Notice means that business personal property was not listed during the listing period of the year in which it should have been filed. If you have any questions about the notice, contact the Tax Office.

Do I have to list leased equipment?
Leased equipment is required to be listed each year along with the contact information of the business or entity from which you are leasing. This is listed on Schedule C on page 2 of the listing form.

My equipment is fully depreciated for income tax purposes, so do I still need to list it?
Yes, you must list all business personal property as long as you own and use it in the operation of your business.

Do I have to list my personal items that I use in my business?
Yes, all items used in a business activity, including a home based business, must be listed. This includes items you were or are still using personally.

What do I do if my business has closed or been sold?
If your business has closed or been sold, you may provide the Tax Office with a letter stating so and the date operations ceased. You should provide the contact information for the new owner if applicable. There is also a section on the Business Personal Property Listing form for you to notify us of the sale or closure.

If I do not agree with my tax bill, may I appeal?
A taxpayer who owns taxable personal property may appeal the value, situs or taxability of the property within 30 days from the date of the bill.


Homestead Exclusions

Do I have to apply in person?

For these exclusions, the qualifying homeowner may submit an application by mail to:
GASTON COUNTY TAX DEPARTMENT - ATTN: HOMESTEAD 
PO BOX 1578 - GASTONIA, NC 28053
Or in person at the Tax Department. For further information, please call (704)-810-5834.

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) 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 other moneys received from every source other than gifts or inheritance from family members. 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.

 


Individual Personal Property 

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
  • Watercraft
  • Aircraft

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 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.


Present Use Value Assessment Program

Is it possible to change from forestry production to agriculture/horticulture production immediately?

While it is possible to go from forestry to agriculture/horticulture, it is not possible to immediately transition. To qualify for agriculture/horticulture classification, an income of $1,000 average gross income must be made over a three (3) year time span prior to the application date. However, transitioning from agriculture/horticulture to forestry can be done immediately as long as the forestry requirements are met: a minimum of 20 acres in production of trees, a forestry management plan being in place by January 1 of application year, and the ownership requirement being met.

What is a forestry management plan and how do I obtain one?

A forestry management plan is a written plan for the property setting recommendations and instructions from a forester. The plan should include a map of the property which distinguish different areas based on different recommendations and a timeline as to when practices should be carried out or reassessed by a forester. If applying for the forestry classification in the PUV program, the plan should be in place by January 1 of the application year. 
To see about getting a forestry management plan, a forester of your choice must be contacted. Anyone who is knowledgeable and is qualified to create a forestry management plan is able to, it is not limited to one person.

What is the purpose of a Compliance Review Form?

Our office likes to send out Compliance Review Forms to give the property owners a chance to give us an update so that we are able to keep up to date files on the properties in the PUV program. These forms consist of an acreage breakdown, an income portion for the 3 prior years, as well as a section to give us to the contact information of the farmer leasing the land if it is applicable. These forms are also important so that we are able to make sure people are still meeting the requirements and not abusing the tax deferment.


Real Property Exemptions

Can property owned by an individual be eligible for tax exemption? 

Technically, if the owner meets all the requirements for the classification that is being applied for, there is a chance that they can be tax exempt on their property. The most commonly seen individually owned properties that are tax exempt are properties used for burial sites, historical properties, and brownfield exclusions.

Are properties owned by a church or religious organization automatically exempt from property taxes?

No, properties are not given the exemption solely based on who owns the parcel. An application must be submitted to receive tax exemption for the purpose of explaining the use of the land and/or improvements requesting exemption.

 


Registered Motor Vehicles

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) 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:
1.) Proof of plate surrender to NC DMV (DMV Form FS20).
And
2.) 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.

How can I get a record of the taxes I paid on a registered vehicle?
The tax amount you paid is now listed on the registration form you received for your vehicle. If you are unable to locate the registration, go to https://edmv.ncdot.gov/mydmv/mydmvaccount/login

What is a GAP Property Tax Notice and how are taxes calculated?
A Gap Property Tax Notice is a tax bill that covers the months between the expiration of a vehicle’s registration and the renewal of that registration or the issuance of a new registration.  Taxes are based on a 12-month  year, therefore the taxes due are adjusted proportionately downward if the number of Gap Months Billed is less than 12 months and upward if the number of Gap Months Billed is more than 12 months.


Tax Foreclosures

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.

I am the current owner of a property being sold at auction. How can I stop the foreclosure?
Taxes and fees must be paid IN FULL before the upset bid period is over to stop the foreclosure process.

What happens to property that isn’t sold?
Properties that are not sold during the foreclosure are then County Owned and become Surplus Properties. Please contact rebecca.edison@gastongov.com for Surplus Properties.