Reassessment – Appeal Process
THREE STEPS IN THE APPEAL PROCESS
For the best results, our office recommends the following steps to appeal an assessed value that you question:
- Appeal to the Assessor’s Office – Appeal Form
- Appeal to the Board of Equalization
- File suit in Circuit Court
Hearings with Assessors
An important point to remember is that an assessment appeal is not a means to lodge a complaint about higher taxes. It is an opportunity for the taxpayer to review the property's market value to assure equalization and accuracy.
After the citizens receive their new values, any land owner who feels their assessment is incorrect will have thirty days from the receipt of their value change notice to file a formal appeal with the Assessor’s Office. They may contact the Assessor’s Office to obtain an appeal form and schedule an appointment with the Assessor who visited their property. Scheduling will begin as soon as Notice of Value statements arrive. Hearings will be conducted at the Wise County Courthouse in the third floor courtroom from January 12 – February 28, 2009.
Once a written appeal is made, an assessor will review the land card and will then meet with the land owner to discuss their valuation. If, after explaining equalization and looking at surrounding properties and similar homes, the land owner is still not satisfied, then the assessor will offer to do a follow up site inspection. During that inspection the land owner may point out to the appraiser any information or factors that might affect the value of the property. Our desire is to provide nothing less than the fairest and most equal assessment possible, and will gladly adjust the assessment if substantial evidence is presented which disproves the reassessment value.
After the inspection, the land owner will receive written notification of the decision with regards to the assessed value of the property.
Please be aware that Virginia State Code § 58.1-3379C states “the burden of proof shall be upon the taxpayer to show the property in question exceeds fair market value, the assessment is not uniform, or is otherwise not equalized. In order to obtain relief, the taxpayer must produce substantial evidence that the valuation is erroneous and was not arrived at in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practice.” Our objective is to assess each property at 100% Fair market value, and anyone with an appeal must present evidence supporting their position that our assessment is in error. Remember that our office does not control whether or not values go up or down. These are market trends which we are required by state law to reflect in our assessed values.
A countywide Reassessment falls under the practice of Mass Appraisal, and as such, it will provide the most consistent method of appraising. While an individual appraiser might select three comparable properties that would reflect a higher value on your property, our method assures the fairest overall assessment.
It is also important to understand that our Assessors are well trained and exceed the qualifications required to conduct this type of Reassessment. They follow the strictest professional standards, and have maintained an excellent record of service to the citizens of Wise County. They are familiar with the trends and history of this area, and pride themselves on achieving accuracy and equality by using standard acceptable appraisal practices.
Board of Equalization (BOE)
If the landowner is not satisfied with the results of the Assessor’s Hearings, the next outlet at their disposal is a formal hearing which will be held with the Wise County Board of Equalization. A formal appeal must be submitted to the Board of Equalization for their consideration.
The Board of Equalization of Real Estate Assessments, often referred to as the BOE, is a committee comprised of five citizens of the County, each being a representative of the 4 magisterial districts. In accordance with Code of Virginia § 58.1-3370, BOE Members are appointed by the Wise County Circuit Court Judge and serve for a term of 15 months.
The BOE is established under the Code of Virginia § 15.2-840. The Board of Equalization of real estate assessments shall have the powers and duties provided by and be subject to, the provisions of Article 14 (§ 58.1-3370 et seq.) of Chapter 32 of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia, as amended.
Code of Virginia § 58.1-3374 outlines the specific requirements for the Board of Equalization. It states that “every board of equalization shall be composed of not less than three nor more than five members.” Furthermore, it states that 30% of the BOE Members shall be “commercial or residential real estate appraisers, other real estate professionals, builders, developers, or legal or financial professionals, and at least one such member shall sit in all cases involving commercial, industrial or multi-family residential property, unless waived by the taxpayer.” In order to be eligible for appointment, each prospective member of such board shall attend and participate in the basic course of instruction given by the Department of Taxation under Code of Virginia § 58.1-206. In addition, at least once in every four years of service on a board of equalization, each member of a board of equalization shall take continuing education instruction provided by the Tax Commissioner pursuant to Code of Virginia § 58.1-206. A member of the BOE can not serve for more than nine consecutive years, after which they will not be eligible for reappointment for a period of three years.
The purpose of the BOE is to provide taxpayers an opportunity for a formal hearing with a committee appointed by the Circuit Court to determine if the property in question is assessed at more than its fair market value, if the assessment is not uniform in its application, if the assessment is otherwise not equalized, or if there are mistakes of fact (which include computation). The Board will always presume that the assessment is correct, and the burden of proof will be on the taxpayer or agent to prove that the property in question is not uniform with other similar properties, or prove that the property is assessed in excess of market value, or show that errors were committed during the appraisal of the parcel under appeal. The board will give consideration to each appeal, but before an adjustment is made, substantial evidence must first be presented that will warrant a change. Supporting documentation (appraisals, photographs, etc) may be brought to the hearing and will be retained as part of the permanent record. It will be the responsibility of the BOE to either increase, decrease or affirm all appealed real estate assessments. To receive relief from the BOE, the taxpayer must produce significant and justifiable evidence that the assessment is erroneous and was not arrived at in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practice.
If it is proven that the assessment is in error, the BOE will determine what correction must be made and will order the Assessor’s Office to make the appropriate adjustments. It is the power and responsibility of the BOE to raise, lower, or affirm any real estate property assessment in order to ensure the equitable distribution of the tax burden among all of the citizens of Wise County.
Wise County Circuit Court
The other option available to the tax payer is to request a hearing to be held in Circuit Court. This will usually involve the hiring of an attorney to represent the land owner in this matter. A judge will be appointed to hear the case and render a final decision about the appeal. This is the final recourse for individuals who wish to challenge their assessment.