The reasons why an assessment might change can be broken down into two major categories:
1. Physical changes, such as additions, remodeling, or deterioration.
2. Economic factors such as inflation, demand of the market reflected by increases or decreases in market value, and external factors in the neighborhood.
An assessment, like all appraisals, is an estimate of value. It is not an exact number; therefore, a reasonable range of value is considered acceptable, approximately 10%. But, if you feel your assessment is too high, the steps you should follow are:
1. Make an appointment to talk with the assessor who viewed your property. That assessor is familiar with the values of other properties in that area and can show you sales of comparable properties and explain how the value was arrived at.
2. If you still feel your property is over assessed, you may request an interior inspection by your assessor in order to review your assessment. Your assessor has already viewed the outside and in order to make a change, they need to see the inside.
3. The third step would be to file a written objection form to appear at the board of review to present sworn oral testimony that your assessment is inequitable. This is done by presenting evidence to establish the value of the property, such as a recent arm's length sale of the property, sales of comparable property, and/or the testimony of an independent appraiser. After establishing the market value, you must show your property is over assessed by more than 10% of your full value assessment.
4. If the board of review sustains the assessment, you may appeal that decision to the Wisconsin department of revenue or to the Circuit Court of Racine County. You may want to at this stage of the appeal process consult with an attorney to assist you through all the legal options available to you.
If you would like to check on your assessment or those of others, you can do so during the office times set by the assessor.
Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions on The Appeal Process
What if I don’t agree with my assessment?
Talk with the assessor. During this informal session you can learn how your assessment was made, what factors were considered, and what type of records are kept regarding your property.
After this review, if I still think the assessment is incorrect, what can I do?
You should arrange to appear at the Board of Review. The City Clerk will provide you with an objection form that you must complete. You will then be scheduled for a hearing at the Board of Review.
When you receive your tax bill in December, it is too late to file an objection. Paying your taxes under protest does not constitute an assessment objection unless you have first filed an appeal with the Board of Review.
What is the Board of Review?
The Board of Review is made up of citizens appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Common Council. It is the Board’s duty to hear evidence by the taxpayer and the assessor and to decide if the assessment is correct.
What evidence do I need to present to the Board of Review?
State law puts the burden of proof on the property owner to show that the assessment is incorrect. Keep in mind that your evidence must be strong enough to prove that the assessor’s value is incorrect. Only relevant testimony given at the hearing will be considered by the Board. STATING THAT PROPERTY TAXES ARE TOO HIGH IS NOT RELEVANT TESTIMONY.
You should establish in your own mind what you think your property is worth. The best evidence for this would be recent sales prices for properties similar to yours. The closer in proximity and similarity, the better the evidence. Another type of evidence is oral testimony from a witness who has made a recent appraisal of your property.
What happens after the Board of Review makes its decision?
The Board will mail you a notice of its decision. If you do not agree with the Board’s determination, the notice will contain information on how you may appeal the Board’s decision.
How will my taxes change as a result of the new assessment?
Though the value of your property affects your share of taxes, the actual amount you pay is determined by the budget needs of the schools, city, county, technical college, and state reforestation.
All of these taxing units decide what services they will provide in the coming year and how much money they will need to provide those services. Once this decision is made, a tax rate is adopted that will generate the needed dollars.
Your property taxes are then determined by multiplying the tax rate by your assessment.
Tax Rate X Assessed Value = Taxes
Where do my tax dollars go?
Although your tax payments are made to the City Treasurer, a large share of your tax dollars are turned over to other governmental units such as the schools, county, technical college, and the state.