Deadline to appeal property tax values approaches
September 9, 2016
Property owners probably didn't notice a significant increase to the taxable value of their homes when the Summit County Assessor's Office sent out tax notices last month.
The county's assessed valuation for property remained steady at around $15 billion for the second year in a row, according to Steve Martin, Summit County assessor. Property valuations are based on fluctuations in the real estate market.
"All of these values are based on sales, reappraisals and new growth so what these numbers mean is that we have a stable market, which is healthier than out-of-control inflation," Martin said.
The Assessor's Office sent disclosure notices at the end of July to show the 2016 property valuations that property owners will be expected to pay taxes on in November. If they believe the county's assessed value is too high, they have until Sept. 15, at 5 p.m., to file an appeal through the Board of Equalization. Summit County's tax year runs from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31.
"We respond to what the market is telling us," Martin said. "Each of the three general areas—North Summit, South Summit and Park City– all have their own idiosyncrasies. In some areas it went down and in some it went up.
"I have seen a couple of condominiums where they are dropping off maybe $200,000, but that may just be one sale," he said.
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Last year, some homeowners saw a significant hike in their tax bills when the county's assessed value went up approximately 15 percent from $13 billion to $15 billion. More than 1,100 people filed appeals.
But an increase or decrease in assessed value doesn't necessarily have the same effect on the amount of taxes that are due. As property valuations increase, taxes should broadly decrease because public entities collect the same amount. But other factors can affect property taxes, including tax rates, new developments and centrally assessed valuations.
Property owners can appeal the market value of the property in its present condition and must provide documentation to support their opinion of what the value should be. Homeowners may also appeal the property's status as a primary or secondary residence.
Martin said most of the appeals that have been filed are requesting a change in the home's status. Approximately 380 appeals have been filed since the notices were sent. Martin said if the appeals were based solely on valuation, the number would be much lower.
Once an appeal is filed, it could take up to several weeks to receive an answer, Martin said, adding that appeals are granted on a case-by-case basis by the Board of Equalization.
"We make recommendations based on the information each property owner brings," he said. "If someone comes in and has sales and analysis and appraisals, and we agree with it, we change your amount."
However, Martin said if board members determine that the appropriate amount of taxes were applied to a property, the landowner will be responsible to pay that amount. If there is a change in value after taxes are paid, the Summit County treasurer will issue a refund.
As the deadline approaches, Martin encouraged residents to read their notices again or contact the Assessor's Office with any questions. He said people often throw them away because they are not labeled as a bill.
"If their home is listed under the wrong status, that could have a huge impact on their valuation," Martin said. "But people get upset because they didn't respond to the appeal when they had the chance."
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