The assessor is charged with several administrative and statutory duties: however the primary duty and responsibility is to cause to be assessed all real and personal property within his jurisdiction except that which is otherwise provided by law. This would include residential, commercial industrial and agricultural classes of property as well as personal property Real property is revalued every two years The effective date of the assessment is January First of the current year. The assessor determines a full or partial value of new construction, or improvements depending upon the state of completion as of January First.
General Misconceptions About the Assessor's Work
The Assessor Does Not
The Assessor is concerned with Value, not taxes.
Taxing jurisdictions such as schools cities and townships, adopt budgets after Public hearings. This determines the tax levy, which is the rate of taxation required to raise the money budgeted The taxes you pay are proportionate to the value of your property compared to the total value of the taxing district in which yarn property is located.
General Information About the Assessor
Assessors are appointed to their position by a Conference Board consisting of the members of the Board of Supervisors, the Mayors of all incorporated cities and a member from each school district within the jurisdiction. A city with a population of ten thousand or more may elect to have their own assessor. Assessors are required, by statute, to pass a state examination and complete Continuing Education Program consisting of 150 hours of formal classroom instruction with 90 hours tested and a passing grade of 70% attained. The latter requirement must be met in order for the assessor to be reappointed to the position every six years.
The Conference Board approves the assessor's budget and after a public hearing acts on the adoption of same. The assessor is limited by statute, depending upon the value of the jurisdiction, to a levy limitation for his budget.
What Is Market Value?
Market value of a property is an estimate of the price that it would sell for on the open market on January First of the year of assessment This is sometimes referred to as the "arms length transaction" or "willing buyer willing seller" concept.
How Does The Assessor Estimate Market Value?
To estimate the market value of your property the assessor generally uses three approaches. The first approach is to find properties that are comparable to yours which have sold recently. Local conditions peculiar to your property are taken into consideration. The assessor also uses sales ratio studies to determine the general level of assessment in a community, in order to adjust for local conditions. This method is generally referred to as the market approach and usually considered the most important in determining the value of residential property.
The second approach is the cost approach and is an estimate of how many dollars at current labor and material prices it would take to replace your property with one similar to it. In the event the improvement is not new appropriate amounts for depreciation and obsolescence would be deducted from replacement value. Value of the land then would be added to arrive at the total estimate of value.
The third approach to value is used if your property produces income such as an apartment or office building. In that case, your property could be valued according to it's ability to produce income under prudent management; in other words, what another investor would give for a property in order to gain it's income The income approach is the most complex of the three approaches because of the research, information and analysis necessary for an accurate estimate of value This method requires thorough knowledge of local and national financial conditions, as well as any developmental trends in the area of the subject property being appraised since errors or inaccurate information can seriously effect the final estimate of value.
Why Values Change
State law requires that all real property be reassessed every two years. The current law requires the reassessment to occur in odd numbered years. Changes in market value as indicated by research, sales ratio studies and analysis of local conditions as well as economic trends both in and outside the construction industry are used in determining your assessment. If you disagree with the assessor's estimate of value please consider these two questions before proceeding, as outlined below:
Tax Levies and Assessed Values
There are a number of different taxing districts in a jurisdiction, each with a different levy. Each year the County Auditor determines for that district a levy that will yield enough money to pay for schools, police and fire protection, road maintenance and other services budgeted for in that area The tax levy is applied to each $1000 of a property's taxable value. The value determined by the assessor is the assessed value and is the value indicated on the assessment roll. The taxable value is the value determined by the auditor after application of state ordered "rollback" percentages for the various classes of property and is the value indicated on the tax statement. When comparing the value of your property with other properties always compare with the value on the assessment roll or the assessors property record books and not the value indicated on the tax statement.
Iowa law provides for a number of credits and exemptions. It is the property owner's responsibility to apply for these as provided by law. It is also the property owner's responsibility to report to the Assessor when they are no longer eligible for any credit or exemption they have applied for. Following is a list of several credits and exemptions available in Iowa.
Iowa residents who own and occupy their dwelling and the land it is located on may file for homestead credit. To qualify for the credit, the property owner must be a resident of Iowa and actually live on the property on July 1st and for at least six months of every year. Applications must be filed by July 1st of the year the credit is claimed. Once approved, the credit remains in effect until the person moves or sells the property.
Iowa residents who meet one of the following service requirements are eligible for the exemption:
Application must be made with the Assessor on or before July 1 of the year the exemption is first claimed. The military certificate of satisfactory service, order transferring to inactive status, reserve, retirement, order of separation from service or honorable discharge must be recorded in the office of the county recorder. Members of the Reserve Forces or Iowa National Guard who have served at least 20 years and continue to serve shall record the veteran's retirement points accounting statement issued by the armed forces of the United States, the state adjutant general, or the adjutant general of any other state. The exemption from taxation is $2,778 for WWI veterans and $1,852 for all other service periods. If the qualified veteran does not claim the exemption the spouse, unmarried widow(er), minor child or widowed parent may be eligible to claim the exemption. (Refer to Iowa Code Chapter 426A)
This is a tax credit on agricultural tracts of land 10 acres or more that are farmed by the owner or designated family members (this includes spouse, parent, grandparent, great grandparent, child, grandchild, great grandchild, stepchild, brother, sister uncle, aunt, niece, nephew.) Applications are filed in the Assessor's Office.
Family Farm One-Time Filing
If a claim for the family farm credit is filed by November 1, and approved, further filing is not required provided the claimant owns the property on July 1 of subsequent years and the designated person actively engaged in farming the property remains the same. A claim filed after November 1 shall be considered as a claim filed for the following year.
If the ownership changes, the new owner must re-file for the credit and if the "designated person" changes, the owner must re-file for the credit.
The owner must notify the Assessor in writing of a change in the "designated person". Failure to do so will result in a penalty.
Contact the Assessor's office for more information on the complexities of this law. (Refer to Iowa Code Chapter 425A)
Forest Reserve Tax Exemption: Property owners of 2 or more eligible acres of land containing at least 200 trees per acre may file for forest reservation tax exemption. Once approved, the exemption continues as long as the land remains eligible or until owner requests that the exemption be removed. February 1st deadline.
Others: Several other credits/exemptions are administered by the Assessor's office. Filing is required on them as provided by Iowa law. Go to the Iowa Dept of Revenue webpage for more information.
The following forms may be downloaded, filled out, and returned to the Assessor's Office.
January 1 - Effective date of current assessment.
April 16 thru May 5 inclusive - Protest of assessment period for filing with the local Board or Review.
May 1 thru May 31 inclusive - Board of Review meets each year.
October 16 thru October 25 inclusive - Protest period for filing with Board of Review on those properties affected by changes in value as a result of the Director of Revenue's Equalization Orders (odd numbered years).
January 1 thru July 1 inclusive - Period for filing for Homestead Credit, Military Exemption and Personal Property Tax Credit. One time filing is provided, by statute, unless the property owner is:
Personal Property Tax Credit must be filed if:
Annual filing is required on the following if provisions have been made for exemptions as required.
Click here to see a Property Assessment and Tax Flow Chart.
Things to Remember
Assessed Value and taxable value are not synonymous terms.
Property is assessed as of January First.
Property is reassessed every two years.
Taxes are levied on a value determined by the auditor by applying a "rollback" percentage to the assessed value and deducting any applicable exemptions or credits.
The rollback percentages vary each year.
For values determined as of January First, taxes will be payable eighteen months following on July First.
The "rollback" is the percentage of actual value that is determined by the Director of Revenue each year on the several classes of property where the total value increase STATEWIDE, exceeds four percent for each class of property. The percentage so determined by the Director of Revenue is certified to and applied by the local county auditor to all property in each class effected throughout the State. Percentages determined by the Director of Revenue are the same for all the assessing jurisdictions in the State.
Increases in assessed value of individual parcels of property as determined by the assessor, may exceed four percent within a jurisdiction. Agricultural property (except agricultural dwellings) are assessed on the basis of productivity and net earning capacity using a five year crop average and capitalized at a rate set by the Legislature. The rate is currently seven percent. Tentative and final equalization orders are issued by the Director of Revenue in odd numbered years on or about August 15th and October 1st respectively. The orders are sent to the various county auditors who apply them to the classes of property affected, if any.
Assessors and members of the Board of Review are appointed to their term of office. Assessors, in addition to completing the required 150 hours of Continuing Education, must be approved by a majority vote of the Conference Board in order to be reappointed.
If you desire further information, questions concerning property values or other information relating thereto should be addressed to the assessor's office in the respective jurisdiction and not the Board of Supervisors or Treasurer.
Questions relating to taxes should be addressed to the local county Treasurer.
Read about Property Values to Taxes.
Webster County is a member of the Iowa State Association of Assessing Offices. Find their website at: http://www.iowa-assessors.org
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