Determining the tax value of 50-year-old cars is more difficult than you might think

In the past, some Guilford County residents who have five-decade old cars that barely drive in their driveways have been hit with huge tax bills because Guilford County once treated all old cars as fully restored antiques or vintage cars.

A taxpayer can appeal the value determined by the Guilford County Tax Department, but some may not have understood this and others may not have wanted to go to the trouble.

Fortunately, department policy is now much more forgiving.

According to Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis, a vehicle in Guilford County must be 30 years or older to be considered “antique or vintage.”

Chavis stated in an email: “Vehicles can be rated low, medium or high. Guilford County values ​​each vehicle individually at the average value in the NADA National Auto Dealers Association) Classic Car Guide to be fair and equitable to all taxpayers who own vintage vehicles. After taxpayers receive their annual plate renewal application from the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, they have 30 days from the date of the bill to appeal the value under N.C. General Statute 105-330.2(b1).”

Chavis added that the appeal information is printed on the back of the renewal.

In the past, the department automatically assessed old cars at their salvage value, leading to head-scratching from taxpayers who wanted to know why they were being billed large sums of tax for an old rattle in their driveway. One Guilford County resident was not at all happy when he had a 1980 Chevrolet pickup truck worth about $1,000 and found out the tax department had valued it at more than 10 times that amount, at $11,150.

Chavis said once a vehicle is 30 years old, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles places it in “vintage or antique” in the state’s computer system to be appraised by each North Carolina county.

Guilford County manually inspects and appraises approximately 1,000 vintage and 50 antique vehicles each month.

If a resident disagrees with the assessment, they can appeal to the tax department by calling, emailing or writing.

“Once a taxpayer appeals to the IRS,” Chavis wrote, “they have several options. They can send us pictures of the inside and all four sides of the vehicle from the outside by post or email. In addition, they can bring the vehicle to one of our two offices to inspect and note the condition. After our review, we will make a determination of the value of the vehicle using the NADA guide noted above.

Pat Miller, Guilford County’s assistant tax director who oversees personal property, provided some of the story.

“In August 2016, the NC Department of Revenue began separating vintage, antique and collector vehicles in the electronic files that are sent to NC counties,” Miller wrote in an email. “To date, we have revalued 46,484 vehicles in Guilford County that fall into this category,” noting that most of those vehicles were found to be undervalued.

Miller stated that the Guilford County Tax Department follows the uniform assessment standards of NC General Statute 105-283.

“We have attempted to answer these questions as they arise,” Miller wrote. “Our department audits these vehicle categories on a monthly basis using the values ​​set by the NADA Collector’s Guide. We use this guide, as we use all NADA guides, to ensure that all citizens who own vehicles in Guilford County are treated fairly and equitably.”

Taxpayers have 30 days from the bill date to appeal their vehicle’s assessed value.

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