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Many plan their tax appeals

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Summit County might see a slew of tax appeals next week from homeowners who think the government has overvalued their property.

The deadline is Sept. 15 to appeal market values on this year’s property-tax notices.

Jeremy Ranch resident Jim Hill said people with homes for sale in his Snyderville Basin neighborhood are lowering their asking prices.

"I got my tax notice and it was the same as last year’s, and everywhere in the neighborhood you’re seeing reduced price, reduced price, reduced price," Hill said.

His home would not sell for what county officials claim it is worth, Hill added.

"I look around and I don’t see anything selling for that price," he said about his house valued at $834,000. "I’m going to appeal."

About 20 people were taught Monday about ways to appeal the assessed value of their property at a seminar hosted by Tesch Law Offices at Trailside Park.

One reason your property taxes might not decrease in the slumping real-estate market is because foreclosure sales are not considered by Summit County when taxable values are determined, according to Tesch Law attorney Paul Poulsen.

Foreclosure sales happen when banks sell homes previous owners lose.

After a house next to yours was foreclosed on and sold for $350,000, the county may still value your property at $500,000, Poulsen said.

Meanwhile, Poulsen said "many, many people" have contacted him about appealing their tax notices this year.

"They just wanted to know what the process is and some of them wanted to know how an attorney can help them out," Poulsen said. "We were expecting many calls just because of the decline in the real-estate market."

Poulsen expects to host another free seminar about appealing property assessments today at 6 p.m. at Tesch Law Offices at 314 Main Street in Park City.

"All they can appeal is the assessed value of their home," Poulsen said. "They need to form a basis for their appeal, and that basis is quite easy to form right now because property values have gone down, and that decrease in property values is not reflected in the assessed values with a number of properties."

Still, finding so-called "comparable sales," which are used to show that property values have declined, is difficult right now in many neighborhoods.

"You’ve got to come up with that supportive evidence to show that the assessed value is out of whack with the current fair market value of the property," Poulsen said. "That is difficult to prove right now because to have a comparable sale, you have to have a sale, and there are a lot of neighborhoods where properties haven’t sold for a long period of time."

Most people who want to appeal their property assessments can handle the process themselves, he said.

"Try to keep it focused on the appraised value of your home, that’s what the appeal process is for," Poulsen said.

Properties last appraised before the housing market sank may be overvalued for tax purposes.

"There are some good appeals that we’re in the process of putting together where the assessed value from the (Summit) County Assessor’s Office is higher than the fair market value of the property," Poulsen said.

According to Summit County Assessor Barbara Kresser, tax notices reflect the market value of the property on Jan. 1.

"We don’t have a crystal ball so we have to do a lot of analysis," Kresser said. "Some people got reassessed, some people got their values lowered and some people stayed the same."

Crumbling housing markets in other states have spurred people to appeal market values in Summit County, Kresser explained.

"We’re still a little better off than most places," Kresser said. "They appeal because they think the whole country is in trouble, and that includes Summit County. But that is not always the case."


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