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North Carolina Property Tax Law

The period of time for which taxes are levied, or the period taxes for a particular year are said to "cover" is a matter that has occasionally caused confusion. Units of local government operate on a fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30; property is listed for taxation each year in January. This is done at the beginning of the calendar year so that the property can be taxed by Henderson County to support its operations in the fiscal year opening next after January 1; and for enforcement purposes, the lien of taxes levied for the fiscal year attaches to real property on January 1.

The North Carolina Supreme Court has defined a lien as "the right to have a demand satisfied out of the property of another." This right runs against the property rather than against the owner. As used in the property tax laws of this state, the lien for taxes is in favor of the local governmental unit and may be enforced against the property of the taxpayer.

Each year, the taxing unit acquires a lien against all real property that each taxpayer owns within the unit on January 1; this lien attaches automatically, by operation of law, without an effort on the Collector's part.

Because the lien attaches to real property as of January 1, obviously it does so not only before the tax becomes due but also before the exact amount of the tax can be known.

Regardless of the time at which liability for tax for a given fiscal year may arise or the exact amount thereof be determined, the lien for taxes levied on a parcel of real property shall attach to the parcel taxed on the date as of which property is to be listed.

The lien of the property tax against real property is superior to all other liens and rights (except certain liens for other taxes) regardless of the claimant and regardless of whether acquired before or after the lien for taxes. Furthermore, once the lien has attached to real property, its priority is not affected by transfer of title, by death, by receivership, or by bankruptcy of the property owner.

Henderson County annually attaches a lien on over 65,000 real properties valued at more than $10 billion dollars.

With such a tremendous amount of property, it can easily be understood that clearing this lien against every property in Henderson County is a major undertaking. The tax statutes, however, supply the Collector with specific means for enforcing collection against the citizen's property when all other means of satisfying the lien against the property have been exhausted.

The lien against the real estate for unpaid taxes may be enforced by a procedure called foreclosure. This is a rather drastic means of collecting taxes; it is generally viewed as the remedy of last resort.

On the first Monday in February of each year, the Collector is required to report to the Board of County Commissioners "the total amount of unpaid taxed for the current fiscal year that are liens on real property." When this report is received, the Board must order and set a date on which the liens are to be advertised, setting the stage for the initial step in foreclosure as outlined below:

The In Rem Foreclosure process including the following actions:

1. The advertisement of liens and past due taxes occur in March of each year and is published in a local newspaper.
2. A notice is mailed stating that a judgment against the owner of record will be filed with the Clerk of Superior Court. (A judgment will normally affect credit ratings.)
3. The judgment is filed in Superior Court. Additional costs must be added to the tax notice.
4. After the judgment is filed, a notice is mailed stating the execution or sale will occur.
5. Execution is issued to the Sheriff ordering the sale of the property. The Sheriff will set the date of sale and sell the property.

NOTE: At this point, all payments must be made to the Sheriff. The Collector's Department is no longer involved.

1. The property is sold at the Henderson County Courthouse by the Sheriff, and a deed will be issued to the buyer by the Sheriff.

NOTE: Each step in the process of foreclosure will add costs to the total tax notice.

Please be aware that after step two (Notice of filing judgment) is begun, the process will continue until the taxes are paid or the property is sold.

Under North Carolina General Statute 105-321(b), the Henderson County Collector is "authorized" empowered, and commanded" by the County Commissioners to collect the taxes set forth in the tax records.

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200 North Grove St,
Suite 102
Hendersonville NC, 28792
Phone: (828) 697-4870
Fax: (828) 697-4578