Working with assessors on property assessment appeals | Kohrman Jackson & Krantz LLP

Recent turmoil in various market sectors creates the need to refine analyzes and understanding of property tax assessment appraisals. To assess the need for property tax assessment appeals, it is essential to understand the roles that an assessor can play in the appeal process. Early in the appeal process, an assessor can help assess the tax at issue in a property tax dispute case by evaluating market data and market trends, or by providing an opinion on market value to the legal valuation date. Knowing the tax involved is essential for call planning purposes. Why spend $3,000 on a call that’s probably only worth $2,000? Perhaps later in the process, an appraiser can assist a homeowner by providing a value opinion in a form appropriate to the circumstances.

Evaluators as Expert Witnesses

Appraisers are regularly engaged as expert witnesses in property tax appraisal contests where property assessments are the primary issue. Skilled and experienced evaluators use evaluation practices and procedures to analyze data and develop and report valuable opinions accordingly. Tax authorities or judges receive testimony from appraisers and review appraisal reports, often asking appraisers questions about items contained in the appraisal reports. A properly crafted and well-written valuation report, attested by a competent expert, is often an essential part of a successful valuation challenge.

Expertise matters

When working with appraisers, it is important to understand that there are different appraisal specialties and, depending on the circumstances, expertise can play an important role in the appraisal process. However, an evaluator may not have the level of expertise needed for a particular valuation assignment at the time of engagement; in this case, the appraiser can undertake to work to acquire the required level of expertise with the client’s consent. Depending on the type of valuation, an evaluator may require the assistance of other experts, particularly where in-depth investigation by a specialist would be helpful or necessary to establish things such as, but not limited to, capitalization rates, architectural feasibility, or construction costs.

The evaluation methodology also matters

Ohio counties are required to reassess real estate market values ​​every six years, and a separate adjustment is made during the three-year interim period to account for recent sales of comparable properties and changes in physical characteristics, such as additions or removal of structures, if not previously addressed. Examine the market values ​​indicated by the sale prices of similar properties in the surrounding areas, or the sales comparison approach, is a method for determining current taxable value. Another method is the income approach, where the income-generating aspects of a property are analyzed to determine its assessed value. The revenue approach is often used when revaluing commercial offices and other types of commonly leased property. The cost approach is commonly used for special purpose properties and is also relevant to consider for other types of recently built properties. Your appraiser should be qualified to use and understand all three approaches to value, whether pursuing or defending a tax appeal. Another consideration is that certain types of properties require special attention to the nuances of valuation methodology that are relevant to Ohio property tax law. Your appraiser should also stay on top of where the property is located in the six-year and three-year periods. A qualified appraiser can help protect your bottom line. It is important to discuss all of your available options with your appraiser.

When considering the use of appraisers, it is important to note the protections that are only available when working with appraisers through legal counsel. A lawyer’s communications with an appraiser are protected in Ohio, which can be critical when dealing with property in uncertain circumstances, especially given the nuances of the legal structure of the property. ‘Ohio for property tax assessments.

Go forward

The impact that House Bill 126 (HB 126), adopted earlier this year, will take on property tax assessment appeals is uncertain. Along with other considerations, valuation dates are important factors. It is important to keep in mind that the 2022 property tax assessment date was January 1, 2022 and involved a different set of market conditions than what January 1, 2023 will bring.

Landlords and Licensed Tenants should carefully review their appraisals and obtain second opinions from qualified experts in complex situations.

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