The Appeals 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 Assessment Team
- Appeal to the Board of Equalization
- File suit in Circuit Court
Formal Hearing 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 citizens have received their reassessment value notices, any landowner 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 Assessment Office. They may contact the Assessment Office to obtain an appeal form or download one from our webpage to schedule an appointment. Scheduling will begin as soon as Notice of Value statements arrive. Departmental reviews and hearings will be conducted at the Wise County Courthouse in room 249 for a period of 30 calendar days. Most issues should be resolved at this level, because any error in measurement, computation, data entry, attribute or description will be corrected during this process.
Please be aware that Virginia State Code § 58.1-3379B-C states “…there shall be a presumption that the valuation determined by the assessor is correct. The burden of proof on appeal to the board shall be on the taxpayer to rebut the presumption and show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property in question is valued at more than its fair market value or that the assessment is not uniform in its application and that it was not arrived at in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practices…” 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 values go up or down. These are market trends which we are required by state law to reflect in our assessed values.
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. The Commonwealth of Virginia has certified the Chief Property Assessor of Wise County as the designated assessor to complete reassessments in Wise County, and he and his staff have committed themselves to the highest standards of professional appraisal practice.
Board of Equalization (BOE)
If the landowner is not satisfied with the results of the Assessor Hearing, the next outlet at their disposal is to file an appeal with the Wise County Board of Equalization for their consideration. It is important to note that State law does not allow this board to make an adjustment based on their personal opinion of value. Only when proof of negligence, non-conformity, computation errors, or other mistakes are proven are they empowered to correct a mistake in assessment.
The BOE is established under the Code of Virginia Section 58.1-3370. 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 (Section 58.1-3371 et seq.) of Chapter 32 of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia, as amended.
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 must presume that the assessor 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. 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. Another opinion of value is not, by itself, considered a preponderance of evidence.
The BOE is required by law to act under the assumption that the value placed on a property as of January 1, 2022 by the Assessment Team is correct. The BOE’s role is to conduct a balanced and independent review, and the board is only empowered to make a change when there is a preponderance of evidence that an error has been made which caused the final value to be incorrect. When the BOE functions correctly, there should be very few adjustments if any made at this level, since the only adjustment they are truly empowered to make is when the taxpayer proves beyond the shadow of any doubt that the assessment is in error. Recent Supreme Court decisions have supported the importance if the BOE upholding the Assessment Office’s opinion of value unless mistakes are proven. In addition, recent Supreme Court decisions have supported the notion that there can be “more than one” accurate opinion of fair market value. To comply with the law, any errors in assessment must be clearly identified and specifically explained by the BOE in order to be recognized. Should the BOE fail to abide by the same standards as the Wise County Assessment Team, they would be in violation of Virginia State Law.
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.