Tax bills anger showroom tenants

Mar. 02, 2013 @ 12:00 PM

Tenants in several downtown showrooms have been grumbling for months about Guilford County personal property tax bills they do not understand and do not want to pay.
The issue has become a sore spot with the tenants at showrooms which are empty most of the year, said Tom Conley, president and chief executive officer of the High Point Market Authority.
“We got a bill for five years of back taxes,” Conley said. “We called about it and were told to forget it. We have received complaints about whether these bills are legal and right. This appears to have been done in an effort to make more money. We were insulted by it.”
The tax is not the tax showroom owners pay based on the square footage of their buildings, partly to support the semiannual High Point Market.
Tax Director Ben Chavis said a survey discovered 733 businesses with an assessed value of $90,682,050 and total tax of $1,917,669.24.  Only eight were furniture related businesses in High Point with an assessed value of $1,345,610 and a total tax of $25,048.43.
“These showrooms have not been targeted,” Chavis said. “This is part of our process, and we have not gotten much feedback about it. If the property is not there on Jan. 1, we can address that on an individual basis.”
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners will hear about the tax billings Monday during a special meeting. Chavis said Chairwoman Linda Shaw wants a “clarification on the process.”
“The statutes have not changed on this,” Chavis said.
Republican Commissioner Bill Bencini of High Point said commissioners may want to be sure that the tax department is not “over-reaching on this.”
“We don’t need to make things more difficult for Market,” he said.
Conley said out-of-state tenants may have paid the tax to avoid the appeals paperwork. It is the responsibility of property owners to take advantage of any exemptions.
“Some of them do not know they can protest,” Conley said. “It can be easier to pay, but not right.” 

Tax Law

Listings: State law requires all personal property subject to listings to be reported with the county tax office on Jan. 1 each year for ad valorem taxation unless specifically exempt by statute.

Properties: Personal property includes unlicensed automobiles, boats, business machinery and equipment, or property rented as part of business. The tax rate is the same as the tax rate for real property.