It’s that time of year again—property tax protest time.  You may have already received a yellow postcard in your mailbox notifying you that the value of your home and/or real estate has been raised, meaning the amount of taxes you will pay, if you take no action, will increase.  The attorneys at Jacobsen Orr have experience representing clients through this process, including at protest hearings conducted by professional appraisers.  Whether your 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 (no later than July 1) 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 2019 and thereafter (unless changed in the future); or (2) file a protest with the Buffalo County Board of Equalization through the Buffalo County Clerk.  The deadline to file a protest is June 30, but because June 30 falls on a Sunday this year, the protest “will be considered timely filed if submitted in person or postmarked the next business day” or July 1.[1]

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.[2]  A protest based on equalization means a real property owner asserts that the real property is disproportionately valued in relation to similar properties.[3] 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.[4]

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 July 1, 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.[5]

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.