‘Just do it slowly not beat us to death right off the bat’: Property owners nervous about tax hikes as property values increase

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ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Property values across Northeast Tennessee are re-appraised and some local homeowners said these increases seem higher than usual.

Experts told News Channel 11 part of what is driving these increases is the hot real estate market.

The latest available data from the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors showed the average sale price for homes this year is up more than 23% from 2020 as of April 3. Closed sales are almost 33% higher, and the number of available homes has dropped by more than half.

Homeowners not looking to sell are nervous about the possibility of a property tax increase.

One Carter County homeowner said his property value was recently re-appraised and nearly doubled in value. Now, he has concerns about the repercussions of that increase.

“Well, the assessment value was, $12,700 is went up to $24,475. And that’s just, you know, outrageous to me,” Bennie Vaugh explained. “Now grant you the property value on my home was estimated $50,800 and the $97,900 is what the appraisal value is of this property. And, you know, I’m glad that everything’s going up, but you know that that’s a lot, almost double.”

His advice to the powers that be: take it slow.

“I think is a little bit too high. I can understand, even at the 20% maybe range that I would like to see 10%, and maybe next year to follow up and more, you know, just do it slowly not beat us to death right off the bat,” Vaughn said.

Just because property values go up, does not necessarily mean property taxes will go up too, John Dunn, director of communications for Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury explained.

“Just because you get a higher property value on that card that you get in the mail doesn’t necessarily, doesn’t mean you’d be paying more in taxes, state law says that when property values go up the tax rate has to drop to bring in about the same amount of money that the county brought in in the previous year. The only way that a county can exceed that rate is if the county commission votes to raise that property tax rate back above the lower certified tax rate so it’s important to understand that as well,” he said.

However, in some cases, property taxes will rise nevertheless.

“Say for example, property values in Carter County have gone up 20% since the last revaluation. Well, the tax rate would drop about 20% or so. However, if your individual property went up 50% you’ll still pay more in taxes than you would even with that new certified tax rate because you’ve gone up so much higher than the county average. On the other side if you went down, if your property only went up 15% you pay less at the end of the day than the certified tax rate,” Dunn explained.

For someone like Vaughn whose property value rose almost 50%, the chances are high that his property taxes will see a spike.

“I understand taxes got to go up, that’s just way of life – death and taxes – but don’t kill us all at once,” Vaughn said.

According to Carter County Property Assessor Ronnie B. Taylor, “Land and improvement appraisals vary due to location and classifications therefore percentages are incomplete at this time.”

Sullivan County reappraises properties every four years, but the property assessor explained values are calculated differently for businesses.

“If it’s a business, that is taken into account – if they lost business – we do an income-approach on valuation,” Donna Walker said.

The Sullivan County Property Assessor told News Channel 11 that many of their appraisal notices have been returned to her office unopened, so if you have not received your property assessment in either Sullivan or Carter Counties, you should contact those offices.

Property owners can still appeal to their local property assessor or county board of equalization if they feel their property value appraisal was wrong. Appointments with the board open June 1st, so property owners should call to make an appointment before that date.

Washington County Property Assessor Scott Buckingham said reappraisal will be 2024, and until then, property values will continue on 2019 estimates.

Follow News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais on Facebook and Twitter for news updates.

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