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Tax letters sent to some Forsyth businesses by mistake
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Forsyth County News

FORSYTH COUNTY — Forsyth County businesses may have received a letter in the mail from the local board of tax assessors asking for information regarding their operations.

The letter was sent out in order to provide uniform and correct tax evaluations, but it wound up going to some businesses other than those intended, according to Mary Kirkpatrick, chief appraiser.

“The biggest questions we’ve gotten from the public are people who are owner-occupied businesses, and they are curious as to what we are wanting from those folks,” Kirkpatrick said. “Generally, we don’t need anything if you’re an owner-occupied person or a mom-and-pop type business.”

Complying with the request is not mandatory, but Kirkpatrick said she hoped that businesses would do so in an effort to gather correct and uniform tax evaluations.

“We’re kind of asking these folks if they’ll respectfully share their data,” she said. “There is no requirement that they do so. And a lot of people, quite frankly, take the opinion that it’s none of our business.”

The letter is aimed at gathering information from businesses that are concerned more with property than a service, such as apartments or storage units.

“In commercial real estate, a lot of people buy it and sell it based on the amount of income that property can produce, and that is the people we’re looking for,” Kirkpatrick said. “People who have bought something like an apartment complex … things where the real estate is producing the income not the business inside the real estate.”

The information being sought is useful for those types of businesses, which can be appraised in a different way than other commercial operations.

“Those properties that are bought and sold on that basis you can value by a method called the income approach,” Kirkpatrick said. “To do that, you have to know what income the property is producing, the expenses it costs the owner to operate that real estate … and the cap rate that it can be bought and sold for.”

“Most people who can provide it really know what we’re looking for.”

Kirkpatrick acknowledged that not everyone who received the letters would be the types of businesses the department was targeting, but hoped that feedback could prevent future letters.

“We ran this report based off of a building type, because we don’t know who is owner occupied, versus which is being bought for profit and to be used by an income producing property,” she said. “So it went to a quite a few people that it probably really did not apply to.”

“We hope through this first time that we mailed these that we can identify some of those, and if we ever need the information again eliminate those that really don’t need the letter.”