updated june 2022
Proposed Changes to Assessment Appeal Process
In the District of Columbia, the assessment appeal calendar was designed for taxpayers to complete the two-level administrative appeal process prior to the payment of their property taxes. As a result, taxpayers often pay lower property taxes in the first instance as a result of successful administrative appeals, instead of paying higher taxes and then challenging the assessment through an administrative appeal.
The Office of Tax & Revenue (“OTR”) in the District of Columbia has recently proposed significant changes to the administrative appeal calendar, which is governed by the D.C. Code. Although proposed assessments are currently issued by March 1st each year, under OTR’s proposal, new assessments would be issued later in the calendar year. OTR’s justification for the change is that this would purportedly allow the assessors time to review the property’s most recent financial data that is reported annually through the Income & Expense report filing prior to the issuance of the assessment.
OTR's proposal suffers from serious flaws that would weaken the current protections provided to taxpayers. First, issuing assessments later in the year would necessarily push back or truncate the administrative appeal process. This would either result in a compressed administrative appeal calendar that does not provide the opportunity for sufficient review of taxpayers’ claims, or it would place taxpayers in the unenviable position of paying property taxes prior to the issuance of a decision on their administrative appeal. Second, diminishing the effectiveness of the administrative appeal structure that is currently in place would lead to additional appeals filed in D.C. Superior Court and burden the court system with appeals. Third, OTR alleges that its proposal would result in more “accurate” assessments. In our experience, however, more “accurate” assessments from OTR mean an unjustified increase in taxpayers’’ liability.
In sum, the D.C. Code’s administrative appeal process was carefully crafted to provide a robust administrative appeal process for taxpayers, and there is no legitimate justification for tinkering with the current appeal calendar.
Wilkes Artis, Chtd.
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)