Want the good news or the bad news first?  Alright, good news first: June looks like it will continue to bring us seasonal and thankfully, warmer weather.  Bad news, you may receive a dreaded yellow postcard in your mailbox—a property tax change notification.

According to a recent Kearney Hub article, after a flood of protestors came forward the last two years, the Buffalo County Board of Commissioners have again voted to contract with professional appraisers, Joe Wilson and Ron Elliott of Lincoln, to referee such disputes.  The attorneys at Jacobsen Orr have experience representing clients in these hearings, whether the property is residential, part of a farming operation, commercial, or industrial.  We want you to be informed about how you might seek relief from substantial increases in property valuations.

Please remember that you can try to meet with the county assessor (any time prior to June 30th) and have an informal discussion that may help to resolve an issue or concern you have regarding your property valuation.  If you are unable to visit with the Buffalo County Assessor, or after having done so, you are not satisfied with the result, you have two options:  (1) do nothing and the recent valuation will be your new valuation for tax purposes for 2018 and thereafter (unless changed in the future); or (2) file a protest with the Buffalo County Board of Equalization through the Buffalo County Clerk by June 30th.

If you file a protest (option 2 above), please note that the two issues that you are entitled to raise include: (1) valuation and (2) equalization.  A protest based on valuation means a real property owner asserts that the real property is assessed for more than its market value.[1] A protest based on equalization means a real property owner asserts that the real property is disproportionately valued in relation to similar properties.[2] A real property owner can raise both valuation and equalization as reasons for protesting their real property valuation.

The Buffalo County Assessor’s website has helpful information to help you make the decision to file, or not to file, a protest, as well as the forms that you must use in order to perfect a protest. 

Each person considering a protest of their property valuation should note these important requirements: (1) a protest will be dismissed if it is not filed by June 30, a written statement of the reasons for the protest is not provided, or the protest does not contain a description of the property; and (2) if protesting multiple parcels of real property, a separate protest must be filed for each parcel.[3]

Not every case is appropriate for the filing of a protest. At Jacobsen Orr, we can help you with this decision.  As you can imagine, an attorney is not required to handle a real property owner’s valuation protest, and in some cases it may not be cost effective to do so.  However, we have successfully handled a number of protests and appeals over the years, including appeals in front of the professional appraisers who were retained again this year.  We urge you to consider whether hiring counsel would be helpful and beneficial to you in your situation.  If so, please contact us before the applicable deadline.


[1] http://www.buffalogov.org/files/Assessor/Real_Property_Valuation_Protest_Info_Guide.pdf

[2] http://www.buffalogov.org/files/Assessor/Real_Property_Valuation_Protest_Info_Guide.pdf

[3] http://www.buffalogov.org/files/Assessor/Real_Property_Valuation_Protest_Info_Guide.pdf