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Property Tax Resources

Nov
14

Property Tax Bills Arrive, as Does the Deadline to Appeal

Frustrated by your assessment? You've got until Dec. 31 to fight it.

"To successfully appeal, you need to prove that the actual price for which you could sell your property, its "real" real Market value, is below the assessed value. How do you determine the real market value?"

By David Canary, Esq., as published by Daily Journal of Commerce, November 14th, 2007

Your property tax bills have arrived in the mail and, understandably, you're upset with the amount you're paying on your real and personal property. But there is some good news: You have a right to appeal.

So, what are you appealing? Unfortunately, not the tax itself. The amount of property tax you pay cannot be the basis for an appeal. A property tax is the product of multiplying two numbers, the tax rate and the assessed value of the property. Measure 5 limits the tax rate to 1.5 percent of real market value plus any local option property tax. Only in very limited circumstances may property owners challenge the rate.

What you are appealing is the property's assessed value. The assessed value is the lower of two figures: the maximum assessed value (MAV) or the real market value (RMV) of the property.

Under 1997's Measure 50, except for six exceptions, assessed value cannot increase more than 3 percent per year — which becomes the property's maximum assessed value. Real market value, on the other hand, is the amount the property would sell for between a willing buyer and a willing seller in the open market in an arm's length transaction.

Both the real market value and the assessed value appear on the property tax bill. Typically, the assessed value will be below real market value, in which case you are being assessed on the property's maximum assessed value.

To successfully appeal, you need to prove that the actual price for which you could sell your property, its "real" real Market value, is below the assessed value. How do you determine the real market value? First, if you recently bought the property for less than the assessed value, the sale price is a good indication. However, don't base your appeal upon the assessed value of other properties. The Oregon Tax Court has ruled that the assessed value of other properties isn't a sufficient legal basis for seeking a property tax reduction.

An examination of the income generated by your income-producing property may give you an indication that the assessed value is too high. Income may be generated by lease or rental rates of commercial real estate or, in the case of owner-occupied industrial property, by the cash flow generated by the operating facility. If the income generated from the property is far below the expected rate of return of the debt and equity capital invested in the property, this may indicate that the property is over-assessed because it suffers from functional or economic obsolescence.

The best evidence of the property's real market value is an appraisal by a qualified expert for property tax purposes. It may be that your property has been appraised already for other purposes — insurance, partnership buyout, or estate planning purposes. These appraisals may give you an indication whether the assessment of your property is inappropriately high. But appraisals for property tax purposes require that the appraiser render an opinion of the real market value of the fee simple interest of the property as of January 1 st of the tax year. An insurance appraisal that estimates insurable or replacement value is not sufficient. Likewise, an appraisal for estate planning or investment purposes may not fit the requirements necessary for an appeal.

A competent appraiser will determine the real market value of the property by use of one or more of the three approaches to value: the cost approach, the sales comparison approach, and the income approach. The cost approach adds the land value to the depreciated cost of the property's improvements. The sales comparison approach compares the sale price of comparable properties with the property being appraised and makes adjustments for any differences between the two. Finally, the income approach capitalizes either the market rental rate or the cash flow of the property by an appropriate rate of return that reflects the return on, and return of, the investment.

Taxpayers who own residential or commercial properties must first appeal their assessments to the County Board of Property Tax Appeals. Owners of the industrial property can either appeal to county bard, or appeal directly to the Magistrate Division of the Oregon Tax Court. However you chose to proceed, please remember that your appeal must be filed no later than December 31, 2007.

Canary90David Canary has specialized in state and local tax litigation for the past 18 years. He has worked for the past 13 years as an owner in the Portland office of Garvey Schubert Barer and prior to that was an assistant attorney general representing the Oregon Department of Revenue. He has the distinction of trying several of the largest tax cases in Oregon's history. He is the Oregon member of American Property Tax Counsel and an active member of the Association of Oregon Industries' Fiscal Policy Council. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-228-3939.

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Oct
09

Taxpayers beware! Property Bills Come This Month

"When you receive your tax statement, determine if the property belongs to you and if you are responsible for the payment of taxes."

By David Canary, Esq., as published by Daily Journal of Commerce, October 9th, 2007

By statute, county assessors must deliver property tax statements to taxpayers by Oct. 25 of each year- just before Halloween. This requirement applies to all property, real or personal, whether owned by homeowners or utilities. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, it is important that taxpayers understand and carefully review their tax statements.

If you don't receive a tax statement for property you own and you're responsible for the payment of taxes, contact the county assessors office to determine if the assessor is unaware of a recent change of address or ownership.

When you receive your tax statement, determine if the property belongs to you and if you are responsible for the payment of taxes. If there has been a recent sale of the property, the assessor may not have noted the change of ownership, Taxpayers have a duty to now the assessor of changes in title and changes in address. Do not assume the new owner, or lessee of the property (in the case of a triple net lease), will pay the property taxes.

Review the real market value and assessed value appearing in the upper left corner of the tax statement. The assessor calculates a real market value for both land and improvements for the current and previous tax years. Below the total real market value is the assessed value for the total account for the current and previous years.

The assessed value may be less than the total real market value, but it may not be more. This is because Measure 50 requires the assessor to calculate two values — the real market value and the maximum assessed value. The lesser of the two values is the assessed value — the value upon which you pay taxes. If the assessed value is less than the real market value, generally, the real market value has no effect upon the property taxes you pay. Next, it is important to compare the assessed value for the current tax year to the assessed maximum assessed value cannot increase more than 3 percent above the property's assessed value from the prior year. There are exceptions, and the taxpayer must investigate to determine if they apply.

A property's maximum assessed value may exceed the 3 percent cap if the new property or improvements were added. Minor construction or general ongoing maintenance and repair does not constitute new property or an improvement.

Further, the improvements must have been made since the last assessment. Improvements made to the property three or four years ago cannot be added to the tax roll under Measure 50 although assessor may add them as omitted property.

Finally, it is the real market value of the new property or new improvements not the cost that is added to the tax rolls under this exception. This is particularly important if the improvement was a major but necessary repair that did not necessarily add value to the property.

Partitioned or subdivided property may be reassessed by the assessor and with some limitations, the reassessment may increase the assessed value by more than 3 percent. Likewise property that has been rezoned may be reassessed and the assessed value increased, but only if the property is used consistently with the rezoning. However, the total assessed value of properties subject to a lot line adjustment should not be affected by the adjustment by more than 3 percent.

The value of property that is added to the tax roll for the first time as omitted property, or property that becomes disqualified from exemption of special assessment, may increase the previous years assessed value by more than 3 percent under Measure 50. Finally, taxpayer that own or lease business personal property should carefully review their tax statements to determine if any penalties have been assessed. Taxable personal property must be listed, and reported to the assessor by March 1 of each year. If the personal property return is not filed timely, the taxpayer may face penalties up to 50 percent of the taxes due.

Under new legislation, upon application to either the assessor or the Board of Property Tax Appeals, under certain circumstances a taxpayer may obtain a waiver of the penalties. Taxpayers who believe their property has been improperly assessed should contact the assessor immediately. The assessor has the discretion to change the tax roll after it's finished, provided the change reduces the value of the property. But only payers who are vigilant and know their rights scan avoid those nasty Halloween surprises.

Canary90David Canary has specialized in state and local tax litigation for the past 18 years. He has worked for the past 13 years as an owner in the Portland office of Garvey Schubert Barer and prior to that was an assistant attorney general representing the Oregon Department of Revenue. He has the distinction of trying several of the largest tax cases in Oregon's history. He is the Oregon member of American Property Tax Counsel and an active member of the Association of Oregon Industries' Fiscal Policy Council. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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