Summit County tallies tax appeals
September 18, 2009
Tax appeals could take their toll on county government after many property owners suffered sticker shock opening their tax notices this year.
"This is bigger than anything I have ever seen," Summit County Councilwoman Sally Elliott said about the number of appeals filed before the Sept. 15 deadline.
The Summit County Auditor’s Office had counted 3,015 appeals on Thursday. In 2008, there were about 2,100 appeals.
This year, the owners of million-dollar estates have contested their tax bills alongside those living in one-bedroom ski shacks.
Summit County Assessor Barbara Kresser believes crumbling housing markets in other states have spurred people in Utah to appeal their market values.
The deadline is Nov. 30 to pay property taxes and tax notices should reflect the value of homes on Jan. 1 this year, according to Kresser.
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Kresser said officials expect to deny most of the tax appeals.
"Many, many are denied," she said.
But property owners who show evidence their homes are overvalued may see their tax bill reduced, Kresser explained.
"Some appeals are granted if they send in an appraisal or something we were not aware of," she said.
But finding "comparable sales" that were once used to show that property values have declined are difficult to find right now in many neighborhoods, Kresser said.
The number of real estate sales dropped in 2008 but home values for the most part were stable, she said.
Citizens can take tax appeals Kresser denies to the Summit County Board of Equalization and argue their cases before a hearing officer.
"We’re still processing appeals," Kresser said. "But I see a lot of them denied because people were upset and just venting. They haven’t given any kind of evidence that the county has made a mistake."
Meanwhile, Kresser said she also expects many people to file tax appeals in 2010.
"I think I am more concerned about next year," she said.