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Property Tax Resources

Jan
01

New York State Property Tax Updates

Updated December 2002

Hijacking the Assessment Review Process 

New York consistently ranks as one of the highest taxed states in the nation, and local property taxes are 79 percent higher than the national average. Boards of Assessment Review face high rates of complaints and increased pressure by the local governing body to control refund liability.

The evidentiary demands of many Boards have escalated sharply and many initiatives have been criticized as mere attempts by the local governing body to deliberately discourage taxpayers from exercising their right to seek a fair assessment, in conflict with the spirit of New York's Real Property Tax Law.

Perhaps the most flagrant attempt to hijack the review process as a tool to curtail the property owner's right to a fair assessment is found in a recently proposed local law by the new Nassau County Executive. The controversial proposed law requires only commercial property owners who file appeals of their property's assessments to submit a certified appraisal as a condition precedent to reducing an assessment. In the alternative, owners may submit a "bona fide" counteroffer - defined as no less then 85 percent of the County's assessment, or withdraw the appeal altogether. Owners who fail to exercise one of the above options forfeit their right to judicial review and are subject to a $5,000 fine.

Nassau County spends approximately $150 million annually to pay down a $1.1 billion debt from past tax refunds even as taxpayers file more than 100,000 protests annually. More than 80 percent of the annual refund liability goes to commercial property owners. The proposed law by the new County Executive seeks to punish commercial property owners for exercising their constitutional right to a fair assessment and equitable tax burden.

The controversial law must be codified by the Nassau County Legislature as well as the New York State Legislature, which must issue a "home rule" message to authorize the change. However, State Senator Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington) has rejected the County Executive's request to introduce the state legislation, citing concerns that the legislation would be unfair to commercial property owners and was unconstitutional on its face. Of the many concerns with the proposed law, it was rejected by Sen. Johnson because it is punitive and bullies commercial property owners to settle within a 15 percent margin that deprives the owner of the right to a fair assessment and an opportunity to be heard.

Michael Martone
Koeppel Martone & Leistman, L.L.P.
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

North Carolina Property Tax Updates

Updated September 2015

North Carolina

The North Carolina General Assembly has enacted legislation which exempts from property tax the increase in the value of real property held for sale by a builder. Effective for tax years beginning January 1, 2016, and applicable to improvements made after July 1, 2015, improvements to single family or duplex residential real property held for sale by builders and commercial real property held for sale by builders are excluded from taxation as long as the property is held for sale. Applications for exclusion must be filed annually.

Charles B. Neely, Jr.
Nancy S. Rendleman
Williams Mullen
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Ohio Property Tax Updates

UPDATED june 2020

Tenant Complaint Filing in Ohio

Siegel Jennings’ efforts to ensure fair property taxation for all Ohio taxpayers include an active role in the Ohio legislative process itself.  On May 12, 2020, Managing Partner Kieran Jennings appeared before the Ohio Ways and Means Committee in support of an amendment to Ohio Revised Code 5715.19(A)(1), which would permit a tenant who is wholly responsible for the property tax liability of a leased property to file a valuation complaint in its own name.

5715.19 regulates who may file a complaint against the valuation of real estate in Ohio.  In its current form, the language of the statute makes it necessary for a tenant to file a valuation complaint in the name of the owner of the property.  However, the owner of a property where a tenant pays 100% of the property taxes often has little interest in committing time to the valuation complaint process. The true litigant in these situations is the tenant.

The current law’s shortcomings are highlighted during the discovery process on appeal.  Once a decision is appealed to the next level of review, the parties can issue and compel discovery.  Often, discovery issued by opposing parties is directed to the owner and includes requests for information not available to the tenant.  These requests do not always seek information relevant to the fee simple as if unencumbered value of the real property.  Should a tenant receive discovery it cannot answer, such as a question about a sale or a recent financing appraisal, its entire litigation position may be jeopardized.  Unanswered discovery may result in motions to compel.  Motions to compel may include monetary penalties, and even more damaging, evidentiary restrictions that handicap the tenant’s ability to pursue its case.  A tenant who is 100% responsible or the property taxes, and is the true litigant, may be denied due process because it is not in the possession of the information requested.

Property owners with tenants 100% responsible for paying property tax bills often have limited knowledge of the day-to-day operations of their properties.  They are often unable to answer condition questions, may not have familiarity with the markets in which their properties are located and frequently cannot offer much information relevant to the fee simple value of their parcels.  They focus more on collecting rent, and frequently do so from locations outside the state or even the country.  Conversely, the tenant has boots on the ground, knows the bulk of information relevant to the property’s value and has a vested interest in all tax implications. 

Adopting the proposed amendment, as discussed by Mr. Jennings, would clarify language of the statute never intended to exclude a relevant party to the litigation.  It would provide the most interested party – the taxpayer – the ability to fully advocate for and defend its position.  It would ensure due process to tenants already most impacted by the fee simple value of the properties they rent.  Importantly, these changes would not serve to extinguish owner’s rights to participate in Ohio tax litigation matters for their properties but would serve to include the correct parties for properties where the responsibility for taxes is wholly the tenants, who have the most information and are the most impacted by the results.

Kristopher Nicoloff
Siegel Jennings Co. L.P.A.
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Oklahoma Property Tax Updates

UPDATED march 2020

Changes to Deadlines Due to COVID-19

On March 27, 2020, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma issued an order that closed all 77 county courthouses, cancelled all jury terms and suspended all deadlines and procedures through May 15, 2020. Aside from matters that can be worked on by agreement, all District Court and Appellate Court tax cases are on hold until May 15th. The Supreme Court is expected to issue further directives in the near future.

Additionally, on March 24, 2020, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and State Auditor Cindy Byrd made a “recommendation” that all Oklahoma county treasurers extend the second half ad valorem tax payment deadlines from March 31st to April 30, 2020. In this request, the Governor and State Auditor cited 68 O.S. § 2913(G), which states the “county treasurers may waive penalties and interest in any case” where the failure to timely remit was due “through no fault of the taxpayer.” Since Governor Stitt’s recommendation, the Oklahoma County Treasurer and most treasurers across Oklahoma have stated they will not charge penalties and interest for late property tax payments until April 30, 2020.

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Elias, Books, Brown & Nelson, P.C.
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Oregon Property Tax Updates

UPDATED march 2020

Property Tax Relief Not Expected for 2020

Effective March 23, 2020 Governor Kate Brown issued a stay at home order for Oregonians and shuttered all non-essential business including restaurants, malls and business. The effect on business, and in turn property values will be significant. What property tax relief will be forth coming from the assessor or the Department of Revenue is yet to be known. However, because assessments relate back to January 1 of each tax year and the test is what was known or knowable as of the assessment date, we are not holding our breath. While the COVID-19 virus is a reality in 2020, as of January 1 it had not swept through the United States and been declared a pandemic. Oregon has a statutory provision for property that has been destroyed or damaged that allows a proration or reduction in assessment. ORS 308.425. Unfortunately, it does not address proration of property assessment when there is a catastrophic event. There may be some relief for some properties that were already seeing a decline in property values due to other economic obsolescence events. Additionally, the legislature may be imposed on to provide some relief, particularly when it comes to enterprise zones that require a business to maintain a set number of employees and to remain in operation. The central assessment roll will come out in May and locally assessed property will be valued by June 30. So, we are in a holding pattern and we will continue to explore for means to secure relief for over assessed property. 

Oregon property tax statements for real and personal property are required by statute to be mailed by October 25, 2020 for locally assessed property. Taxpayers who believe their property has been improperly assessed must file their appeal by December 31, 2020 to preserve their statutory rights of appeal. When reviewing the tax statement, review the real market value and the assessed values of the property. The assessor calculates a real market value for both the land and improvements for the current tax year and the previous tax year. The assessed value may be less than the total real market value, but it may not be more. This is because Ballot Measure 50 (ORS 308.142 et seq.) requires the assessor to calculate both the real market value and the maximum assessed value. The lesser of the two values is the assessed value and the value upon which taxes are paid. 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. This is because a property’s maximum assessed value may only increase by three percent.

Cynthia M. Fraser
Foster Garvey PC
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Pennsylvania Property Tax Updates

UPDATED June 2020

Pennsylvania Taxpayers Uniquely Positioned to Argue Now for Value Reducations Based on COVID 19 Impact

Pennsylvania property owners who have been financially impacted by the pandemic should act now to evaluate and potentially request relief on their property taxes.

With respect to the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, owners in Pennsylvania have an advantage over most other states because the date on which the market value for an appeal is based—known as the “effective date of value”—is earlier than in other states. In Pennsylvania, the effective date of value is:

  • For Allegheny County, PA – March 31, 2020
  • For Philadelphia County, PA – the first Monday in October (October 5, 2020)
  • For all other 65 PA Counties – Between August 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 (we recommend filing before August)

By comparison, in nearly every other state, the effective date of value is either January 1, 2020 (at which point, the impact of the pandemic was largely unknown in the market) or January 1, 2021 (at which point assessors will likely argue that the effect of the pandemic is already behind us).  Assessors in other states are already pushing back against requests for property assessment reductions based on arguments of what was known on those dates.

Thus, Pennsylvania property owners are uniquely positioned to use information about the effect of the pandemic to seek a reduction in property taxes.  For 65 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, the operative question in seeking to reduce your property taxes will be:  “What would someone pay for my property on August 1, 2020 based on what information was known in the market?”

Reducing your property taxes will require appealing your assessment; winning that appeal will require evidence of your property’s market value. Therefore, appraisals used to support assessment appeals filed in Pennsylvania this year should incorporate the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

Hotel operators in particular should evaluate the potential to reduce their property taxes this year. Even in a typical year, valuation of hotels presents a unique appraisal problem that requires a specialized appraisal expertise.  For this year, the expectation is that the impact of the current crisis will impair hotels’ real estate values in most cases.  Further, as market participants in some sectors are looking to the 2009 financial crisis as a point of reference, there seems to be general agreement that demand for hotel rooms will be slower to return this time around.  This unknown timeline increases the risk to potential investors, further driving down property values.   

Now is the time to start collecting the data and documents that will be necessary to evaluate your property’s assessment to see if there is an opportunity to reduce your real estate taxes.  Owners should gather three years of income and expense statements, a current balance sheet, and a recent monthly STAR Report. In addition, STAR Reports from 2018 and 2019 will be helpful to compare and estimate the impact of the pandemic on 2020 performance.

If you believe the value of your property may be diminished by the COVID-19 crisis, please contact us before July so that you can properly evaluate the opportunity to reduce your property taxes with adequate time to prepare a winning case.

To discuss the specifics of an appeal and the valuation of your property, please contact Siegel Jennings at:

Sharon F. DiPaolo, Esquire
Brendan Kelly, Esquire
Siegel Jennings, Co., L.P.A.
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American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Rhode Island Property Tax Updates

Updated june 2020

Rhode Island Property Tax Bills Have Been Sent

In Rhode Island, the property tax bills for the Tax Year 2020 have been sent. The assessing date for Tax Year 2020 is December 31, 2019. The filing for an appeal with the local assessor is due within ninety days after the date the first installment of the tax is due. In the past the burden was upon the taxpayer to prove value in the tax year of revaluation which is commonly known as the base year. Some judges are now interpreting the law that the value must be proved for the tax year in which the property tax appeal is field e.g. Tax Year 2020 the value as of December 31, 2019, regardless of whehter or not it was a revaluation year. In order to be safe, it may be advisable to prove value in both the tax year of revaluation (base year) and the tax year appealed.

David G. Saliba
Saliba & Saliba
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

South Carolina Property Tax Updates

Updated June 2011

South Carolina Enacts New Point of Sale Law

On June 14, 2011, Governor Nikki Haley signed a new law significantly amending South Carolina's controversial "point of sale" law requiring tax reassessment of properties whenever a sale has occurred. The prior law adopted in 2006, commonly known as "Act 388," placed a fifteen (15%) percent cap on reassessed values as part of the five (5) year countywide reassessment programs but sought to make up for the loss of revenue by requiring that properties be reassessed whenever there is a change of ownership.

Many in the commercial real estate market had expressed that Act 388 placed buyers of commercial properties at a significant competitive disadvantage with competitive properties whose property taxes had not increased. The new law, which does not apply to owner occupied residential properties, creates an exemption equal to twenty-five (25%) percent of any increase in valuation resulting from a change in ownership. The exemption does not permit a reduction in market value below the prior assessed value.

The new legislation leaves several important legal arguments unresolved, most notably the date of valuation for property owners whose properties have decreased in value during the middle of the countywide reassessment cycle. Although the current law calculates property taxes based on the state of the property as of December 31st of the prior year, the South Carolina Attorney General's Office issued an advisory opinion in June 2010 stating that the valuation for any mid-cycle appeal was to refer back to date of the last countywide reassessment. Many South Carolina counties are not adhering to this advisory opinion. The new legislation does not address this issue.

Morris A. Ellison
William T. Dawson
Womble Carlyle
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Tennessee Property Tax Updates

UPDATED June 2020

The Importance of Proper Representation

Many taxpayers ask their property tax attorneys to take over appeals after an unsuccessful hearing with the county board of equalization.  

In one recent case, an unrepresented taxpayer introduced into evidence excerpts from an appraisal report, but failed to provide the entire appraisal or have the appraiser appear for cross examination.  In his decision, the administrative judge reluctantly affirmed the assessor’s value, while stating that “additional evidence could possibly support a significant reduction in value.”  In other words, the taxpayer’s property warranted a reduction in value, but the evidence was not properly presented.  Unfortunately, the taxpayer did not timely appeal further, and the case was not preserved.

Taxpayers should engage counsel early in the process when seeking a property tax reduction, because there are many pitfalls in the appeal process that can deprive them of the tax savings they deserve.

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Evans Petree PC
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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Jan
01

Texas Property Tax Updates

Updated June 2020

APTC Texas Update

The impact of Covid has been felt all across the world.  The property tax system is no exception.  The following are some observations from Texas.

  • · Covid and 2020 Valuations: For property tax purposes, the valuation date is “as of” January 1 of each tax year. Thus, despite the devastation caused by Covid, its ruinous effects on businesses may not be considered for 2020 property valuations.
  • · Section 11.35 Temporary Disaster Exemption: Governor Greg Abbott has declared the entire state a disaster area.  Section 11.35 of the Texas Property Tax Code provides for a temporary ad valorem tax exemption for property damaged in a disaster.  The applicability of the exemption in the context of Covid, however, has been called into doubt.  In AG Opinion KP-0299, Attorney General Ken Paxton concluded that the exemption does not apply to economic loss caused by the pandemic, reasoning that physical damage to property is required.
  • · Alternative Hearing Procedures: Appraisal Review Boards are responding to social distancing needs by utilizing various types of formal hearings, such as hearings by telephone and video conference.  These appear to comply with due process requirements.  Interestingly, Attorney General Paxton recently opined on these alternative hearing types in AG Opinion KP-0307, ultimately concluding that a taxpayer is entitled to an in-person hearing if it insists on one.  Many counties, including several large ones, are currently holding in-person hearings.   Overall, the hearing process is working effectively, albeit slowly.
  • · Tax Rate Caps: Recent legislation caps ad valorem tax rate increases by cities, counties, and large special districts at 3.5%, unless otherwise approved by voters. This limit, however, does not apply to taxing units located in a Governor-declared disaster area.  Controversy is brewing over whether this cap applies in light of Covid.  Governor Abbott argues that it does, while many taxing units contend that his disaster declaration removes the cap.  More to come.
  • · Rolling 2019 Values: Some taxing units and taxpayers contend that rising appraised values, and thus property tax increases, may be avoided in tax year 2020 by using 2019 appraised values.  Because the valuation date is January 1, 2020 (not January 1, 2019), doing this may run counter to law, others argue.  The property tax burden is not increased by rising appraised values, but rather from the refusal of taxing units to lower tax rates in response. This sentiment was expressed by Governor Abbott, who remarked:

“To that end, I strongly encourage local governments to adopt property tax rates that will not result in an increase in the tax burden. This power is wholly within their control. As you know, local governments—not the State of Texas—set the property tax rates, and they are the ones responsible for an increase (or, ideally, decrease) in property taxes. The state, for example, took the unprecedented step last year in reducing school property tax rates, and requiring those rates to continue to decline as property values increase.”

Covid has undoubtedly disrupted the normal course of property tax administration in Texas.  Despite this disruption, the flexibility built into the state’s system has allowed it to adapt and work efficiently.

Jim Popp
Popp Hutcheson, PLLC
American Property Tax Counsel (APTC)

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