The Durham County Tax Collector is harassing, and threatening a Korea Era war vet over property taxes. Since this is an continuing battle, the veteran’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.
The 1st portion of this post will be focused on the NC Constitution & some of the NC Tax Statutes. I know it is boring stuff, but my readers need to have a little background to thoroughly understand the issue at hand.
Now, we’ve ALL been told for years & years that you have to pay your property taxes or the “TAX MAN” will foreclose on your home. That’s a Lie. Here in North Carolina, property tax is levied by the counties, and if you happen to live within the city limits, you get taxed via a city rate too. THIS IS COMPLETELY ILLEGAL and UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
Follow me now…
From the NC Constitution
Article I – Declaration of Rights
Sec. 19. Law of the land; equal protection of the laws.
“No person shall be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin.”
Article V – Finance
Sec. 2. State and local taxation.
(1) Power of taxation. The power of taxation shall be exercised in a just and equitable manner, for public purposes only, and shall never be surrendered, suspended, or contracted away.
(2) Classification. Only the General Assembly shall have the power to classify property for taxation, which power shall be exercised only on a State-wide basis and shall not be delegated. No class of property shall be taxed except by uniform rule, and every classification shall be made by general law uniformly applicable in every county, city and town, and other unit of local government.
(4) Special tax areas. Subject to the limitations imposed by Section 4, the General Assembly may enact general laws authorizing the governing body of any county, city, or town to define territorial areas and to levy taxes within those areas, in addition to those levied throughout the county, city, or town, in order to finance, provide, or maintain services, facilities, and functions in addition to or to a greater extent than those financed, provided, or maintained for the entire county, city, or town.
(5) Purposes of property tax. The General Assembly shall not authorize any county, city or town, special district, or other unit of local government to levy taxes on property, except for purposes authorized by general law uniformly applicable throughout the State, unless the tax is approved by a majority of the qualified voters of the unit who vote thereon.
As mentioned in (4) above, “Special tax areas” — Section 4 defines what areas can be taxed and for what purpose. (you can read it in its entirety at the link HERE, if you so choose)
Here is a portion of section 4:
“Sec. 4. Limitations upon the increase of local government debt.
(1) Regulation of borrowing and debt. The General Assembly shall enact general laws relating to the borrowing of money secured by a pledge of the faith and credit and the contracting of other debts by counties, cities and towns, special districts, and other units, authorities, and agencies of local government.
(2) Authorized purposes; two-thirds limitation. The General Assembly shall have no power to authorize any county, city or town, special district, or other unit of local government to contract debts secured by a pledge of its faith and credit unless approved by a majority of the qualified voters of the unit who vote thereon, …”
Do you see the dilemma yet? Art.V Sec. 2 (2) of the NC Constitution(NCSC) states that ONLY the STATE of NC shall have the power to classify property for Taxes and the State can not delegate it to anyone else (ie. a County, a City, etc). Then we get to (5) and AGAIN, it states the General Assembly(GA) shall NOT authorize any county, nor city to levy taxes on property.
In the above referenced portions of the NCSC, all taxes must also be ‘Uniform’ throughout the entire state. Are taxes the same, on a $125,000 residential homestead in say Carteret County as they are in Durham County? No they are not. For further proof of this, look at the tax rates at the following link;
Here’s some sample data taken from the above link:
From the 2002 – 2003 Tax Year:
Durham County: Durham
County-Wide Rate = .729
City Rate = .534
Total for all jurisdictions = 1.263
Carteret County: Beaufort
County-Wide Rate = .44
Other Districts = .09
City Rate = .34
Total for all jurisdictions =.87
Person County: Roxboro
County-Wide Rate = .67
City Rate = .60
Total for all jurisdictions = 1.27
Orange County: Chapel Hill
County-Wide Rate = .805
Special School District = .202
City Rate = .504
Total for all jurisdictions = 1.511
From the 2005-2006 Tax Year:
Durham County: Durham
County-Wide Rate = .8090
City Rate = .5830
Total for all jurisdictions = 1.3920
Carteret County: Beaufort
County-Wide Rate = .4200
Other Districts = .0550
City Rate = .3800
Total for all jurisdictions = .8550
Person County: Roxboro
County-Wide Rate = .6500
City Rate = .6140
Total for all jurisdictions = 1.2640
Orange County: Chapel Hill
County-Wide Rate = .8430
Special School District = .1834
City Rate = .5220
Total for all jurisdictions = 1.5484
Alright, enough on the NCSC items, now let us look at some of the NUMEROUS issues, and variations of the NC Tax Statutes (NCTS)
From the VERY TOP, the very 1st entry in list of statues;
Article 25. Levy of Taxes and Presumption of Notice.
§ 105-1.1. Supremacy of State Constitution.
The State’s power of taxation is vested in the General Assembly. Under Article V, Section 2(1), of the North Carolina Constitution, this power cannot be surrendered, suspended, or contracted away. In the exercise of this power, the General Assembly may amend or repeal any provision of this Subchapter in its discretion. No provision of this Subchapter constitutes a contract that the provision will remain in effect in future years, and any representation made to the contrary is of no effect. (2003-416, s. 12.)
See, it even states that NCSC is the ‘Law of the Land’ and that the NCGA can NOT contract it, nor surrender it, out to the cities & counties. If we read further through this enormous list of ‘Legalese’, there are numerous contradictions from one statute to the next…
For Example, “§ 105-275. Property classified and excluded from the tax base.” In here, section (16) says all NON BUSINESS PROPERTY is “Exempt” from Taxes. Now, ‘§ 105-275’ does exclude Motor Vehicles, Mobile Homes, Boats etc., from this exempt status, but NOT homesteads or Freeholds. Then, as we look on, we find “§ 105-277.1. Elderly or disabled property tax homestead exclusion”. 105-275 says all Non-Business Property is exempt from taxes, then §105-277.1 says ‘Elderly & Disabled’ folks get SOME relief from taxes. Which is it? Again, if you want to read these statutes, use the link above.
Now, onto the MAIN ISSUE of this blog post. A Korean War veteran (Charlie) is being harassed by the Durham County Tax Collector. He has lived at his current address since the early 1970s. Every year this Veteran has paid his taxes in full and on time. He is now 84 years old and is struggling to make ends meet. His income is Social Security, & he is fortunate enough to have a small pension from his former employer. He and his wife were so far below the ‘Poverty Line’, that back in 2004 or so, their tax preparer told them they didn’t even need to file tax returns any more. So they stopped filing.
Another Battle as already been fought with the NC Officials — Charlie & Henry won that WAR! Here is a brief write up on that one:
In 2009 Charlie’s wife passed away. In the latter part of 2011 or so, he got a letter from the NC Department of Revenue (NCDoR) saying he owed back taxes for several years. His son, Henry, got involved at this point. Henry, talked to their tax lady, and she said – “It’s Nothing, I’ll handle it”. So he thought that was that. About 8 months or so later, 2012 now, a 2nd NCDoR letter arrived again saying he owed back taxes. 2nd call to the tax lady. Again, she said she would “Handle It!” Another 6 to 8 months go by, a 3rd letter from NCDoR comes. Henry & Charlie went & met with the NCDoR folks. Henry explained that they were below all of the so-called ‘Poverty Levels’ income wise, and that the NCDoR had some bad info. The NCDoR folks didn’t buy it and they wanted past tax years filed. This process went on & on for almost a year.
Now, it’s 2013 —- So, at this point, since Henry’s mother was no longer with us, and she had kept the family’s books for all these years, Henry had to go to the IRS to get past wage statements for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 for both of his Mom & Dad (they always filed JOINTLY). This caused our dear veteran lots of stress thinking he owed a bunch of past taxes. The IRS didn’t like Henry’s ‘Power of Attorney’ docs (because his mother had passed and POAs stop at death). Henry fights with the IRS mouthbreathers and jumps through all of their hoops. Queue up the Federal Shutdown of 2013! The IRS offices were closed for over 2 & half weeks, yet the NCDoR was still breathing down their necks wanting this & that, and another form done… yada, yada, yada.
The Conclusion on this event: Our Korean Vet, Charlie, didn’t owe one red cent to the NCDoR. However, the family was out several hundred dollars getting these past Federal & State income taxes prepared for 2007 – 2012 years. Money that was ‘Thrown Away’ due to government incompetence. Now, Henry got really involved in the family’s finance stuff and on his own, has done TONS of research.
2013 & 2014 rolled around, and Henry discovered that they were paying approx $3,500 per year to the county & city of Durham. Charlie INSISTED that Henry pay them in full. Henry DID, but he fought his dad on this issue. Henry kept on reading and studying on these tax things. The more he read, the madder he got.
So, that brings us to 2016. In January, Henry sent a nice letter to the Durham County Tax Office. He simply stated that he had been reading up and couldn’t find the ‘NC Law’ that authorized a COUNTY, or CITY, to levy Property Taxes. He included his findings from the NC Constitution (included at the beginning of this post) and asked the Durham County Tax Office to please respond, in writing, showing where they got their authority to tax, and that he was going to hold off paying Charlie’s taxes until the tax office satisfied his inquiry. He sent said letter via ‘Certified Mail’ so that he would have record of it.
As we’ve learned earlier here, THAT power lies with the STATE of North Carolina Only!
Then, on Saturday May 28, 2016, the Saturday on Memorial Day Weekend, the mailman rings the doorbell & delivers a ‘Certified Mail’ from one Ms. Kimberly Simpson of the Durham County Tax Office. This is the 1st communication from the Durham County Tax Office since Henry’s letter to them in January 2016. Charlie gets ALL UPSET because they are claiming to start a Foreclosure Preceding & Seize his bank accounts if the tax is not paid within 10 days. Henry looks at the letter.
The letter appears to be a ‘Form Letter’ that is a “COPY, OF A COPY, OF A COPY”, and on the backside 2 general statutes are listed — 105-366 & 105-368. The 2 general statutes are not even complete because the multi-copies have lost some of the text on the right hand side. 105-366 stops at (b)9, yet the full statute continues with subsections of (c) & (d). 105-368 stops at (e), yet the actual law, it continues on with subsections (f) through (i). The front side of the letter, other than the pertinent account information, is washed out too. Even the tax department logo at the top is ‘Splotchy’. Plus there is no actual signature nor any official stamp. Is this how you run a government office?
HELP WANTED: Is there any veteran’s groups, or other folks out there, that might could assist this Veteran with this issue? Any information would be helpful. Any Constitutional Attorneys out there that could provide some feedback or assistance?
I have looked over Henry’s findings, & I too agree with him. It does appear that the City & County of Durham is out of their jurisdiction on this issue. Why else would they NOT answer a January certified letter, but yet wait until a long weekend to send out the ‘Threats’? If they were ACTUALLY authorized to levy taxes, one would think a response letter would have been sent to Charlie & Henry stating something along the lines of — “Sir, As per your letter of January 6, we would like to direct you to North Carolina General Statute ABC-123, which authorizes the Durham County Tax Collector to levy taxes on your property. Please include your prompt payment on this matter to avoid any further actions by this office.”
That would have been the end of this issue. The lack of a response is really the disturbing part. Keep in mind now, Durham NC is very liberal — It’s a ‘Sanctuary City’ for Illegal Aliens; It welcomes Terrorist Refugees; and is basically the San Francisco of the east coast. Crime rates are out of control and the entire City Council, Mayor, County Commissioners & all leaders are democrats. Durham’s U.S. Congressmen are David Price & G.K. Butterfield. Need I say more?
Again, any assistance would be helpful. Please leave a comment if you can help, with some sort of contact information so we can get back to you. I will not publish any phone numbers or email addresses once I approve your comment. Or comment even if you have information that states Henry & I are completely WRONG on this!
Respectfully submitted by SilenceDogood2010 this Thirtieth Day of May in the Year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Sixteen. Memorial Day 2016