Owners of undervalued homes could be forced to pay back taxes

by: Jenna Deery Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - If residents own a home undervalued during Mecklenburg County's revaluation mistake in 2011, they will need to get ready to pay up.
 
Eyewitness News uncovered they could soon be hit with years of back property tax bills, even if you didn't own the home back then.
 
If the properties were undervalued, that means the county wasn't collecting the right taxes for years.
 
Now, the county plans to get that money and it's the person who owns the property now who has to pay them, according to a state law.
 
Alan Nobles moved into his University City neighborhood because he got a good deal, but now he worries he could be on the wrong end of a bad deal.
 
He hasn't had his property re-valued yet, but he learned he could have to pay for the county's mistake if it comes back his home was undervalued.
 
"It's hard enough to pay the taxes now. Every year, the taxes go up and then they are going to bury us with more taxes. It's not fair at all," said Nobles.
 
Since 2012, appraisers have been reassessing property values after mistakes were found in a review in 2011.
 
They've found at least 100,000 people overpaid taxes and county leaders are issuing refunds.
 
So far, appraisers have found nearly 7,000 people underpaid and a state law allows the county to collect what is owed.
 
Over the next few weeks, they will send out bills to those people for back taxes from 2011, 2012 and 2013.
 
In August, the 2014 property tax bills started to be dispersed.
 
That means by the end of the summer, some people could get four bills for property taxes.
 
"It's not our fault. They should eliminate the back taxes and let us start out fresh," said Nobles.
 
The law states the current property owner has to pay all the bills. That includes any new home buyers who may purchase this year a previously undervalued home that hasn't been re-valued yet.
 
County leaders discussed the issue during a meeting this week. Even they said it was unfair, but there was little they can do to do to fix it.
 
"I don’t think there is anything the legislature is going to do about it because they would have to forgive the money," said commissioner Bill James (R-District 6.)
 
Property owners have until Jan. 6, 2015, to pay the bills.