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Common area tax quirks reviewed
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Forsyth County News

The change of ownership, or lack thereof, for subdivision common areas has created some unique property tax situations as the housing market launches again in Forsyth County.

During a meeting Thursday, the local board of tax assessors reviewed two cases affected by last year’s removal of a discount for common property before making a slight change in policy.

Chief Appraiser Mary Kirkpatrick said as banks took ownership of foreclosed properties, the tax break for the shared subdivision areas didn’t make as much sense.

“What happened is after the market fell through, the bank took quite a few of these pipe subdivisions and areas that were designated to be common area on plats were suddenly being sold out as [developable] land,” Kirkpatrick said.

“So we did a mass removal of common area discounts that were not in the name of a homeowners association.”

At the time, the banks owned many of those unfinished subdivisions. Today, however, the developers are returning and taxpayers are seeking the discount, according to Kirkpatrick.

In one scenario, a developer is moving forward with an unfinished subdivision under the same plat, but lost the discount.

In the other, a subdivision’s homeowners association never received a transfer of the deed from the developer, who is no longer accessible.

Previously, Kirkpatrick said the discounts had been granted once a common area was platted or a letter of intent was received, and asked if the board would like to broaden requirements.

The board voted 5-0 to allow Kirkpatrick discretion to grant the common space tax break in cases where it is platted and defined.

Kirkpatrick said she would return next month with a formal policy amendment for consideration, but she’d move forward with reviewing cases based on the board’s approval.