Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina Property Tax Commission (PTC) hearings were cancelled for March through June. It appears the PTC will restart hearings in July. However, pursuant to an recent announcement, the PTC will have "virtual" hearings for the forseeable future [see announcement here]. Parties are not required to accept a virtual hearing and can opt out. Parties opting out will have their cases postponed until some yet to be determined date in the future when in-person hearings are restarted.
The Property Tax Commission is the state-level, court of record for property tax appeals in North Carolina. As such, it is the last opportunity to put evidence of value into the record. Appeals from the PTC are directly to the NC Court of Appeals on the record created before the PTC. While appeals to local county Boards of Equalization and Review are typically very informal, a hearing before the PTC is formal, even if slightly less formal than one would experience in District or Superior Court in North Carolina.
As we had a case scheduled for hearing in late August, we faced the decision as to whether to go forward or opt out. In our view, holding virtual hearings of motions or procedural matters is doable. However, an evidentiary hearing where each witness, each attorney, and presumably each PTC member is in a different location is problematical, at best. Even without the seemingly inevitable technology snafu, the prospect of conducting direct and cross examination of a witness not in the room and trying to guage the understanding of such testimony by the commission members not in the room was sobering. Ultimately, we decided to opt out. Supposedly, these virtual hearings will be viewable by the public. So, we may tune in if one of our braver brother/sister lawyers decides to take up this challenge. We wish them the best!