Procedures for Challenging Your Property Tax Assessment in Iowa

Learn the steps you can take to challenge your property tax assessment in Iowa.

As explained in the companion article, Should You Challenge Your Property Tax Assessment in Iowa?, you may investigate your tax assessment and determine that the tax assessor has placed too high a taxable value on your home. If that has happened, your property tax bill will be unfairly high. This article will describe how you may be able to lower that taxable value – and reap big tax savings in Iowa.

What You Need to Challenge the Taxable Value of Your Home in Iowa

To successfully challenge the taxable value, you’ll need to establish at least one of the following facts:

  • The tax assessor relied on information that is incorrect or incomplete. For example, the assessor may have assumed that your home contains 2,250 square feet of space when it actually has only 1,750 square feet.
  • The tax assessor set the taxable value of your home that is higher than the taxable values of similar homes in your community.
  • The tax assessor assumed that the current market value of your home is higher than it actually is.

If you’re convinced that any of these facts is true, consider the following strategy for trying to get your taxable value reduced.

Confer With the Tax Assessor

If you have convincing evidence that the tax assessor has overvalued your home, he or she may agree to change the value. If that happens, you won’t need to pursue an administrative appeal. You can get contact information for your tax assessor from the online directory posted by the Iowa State Association of Assessors.

Most tax assessors are hard-working officials who take pride in their work, and do their best to treat homeowners fairly. It’s best to phone ahead for an appointment with the tax assessor or an assistant. Before your meeting, make extra copies of your evidence, such as tax assessor reports, related to the value of your home. When you meet, assume that the tax assessor is acting in good faith and is willing to consider your evidence. There’s no need for you to be argumentative or to complain about how property taxes have become burdensome. Just stick to evidence that warrants a lower taxable value for your home.

The tax assessor may change the taxable value on the spot but, more likely, will need a few days or weeks to look into the issue.

Pursue An Appeal

If you can’t reach agreement with the tax assessor, you can appeal the valuation. Here’s where to appeal and useful evidence for doing so.

Where to Appeal

You can appeal your home valuation by petitioning your local board of review on the Petition form posted by the Iowa Department of Revenue. File your petition with your city or county assessor from April 7 through May 5. Call the tax assessor’s office for details on what additional paperwork you need to submit. The board will conduct a hearing at which your evidence will be considered.

Useful Evidence for Your Appeal

In pursuing your appeal, several types of evidence may be useful, including:

  • a recent appraisal of your home
  • a contractor’s report showing repair work needed on your home and how much the work will cost
  • documents showing actual sales prices in your neighborhood, and
  • photographs of homes similar to yours, together with a list of their sales prices or taxable values.

At the hearing, you’ll probably have just five or ten minutes to present your case, so be succinct. Bring extra copies of your documentary evidence so that each hearing officer has a copy. Try to include a chart showing comparative sales prices and taxable values. You may want to arrive early so that you observe – and learn from – other people’s hearings.

Consider Asking a Court to Review the Board’s Decision

If you don’t agree with the decision on your administrative appeal, you can go to the county district court for a further review. You must do so by May 31 or within 20 days after the local board adjourns – whichever if later. You’ll probably need to hire a lawyer to advise or represent you if you plan to go to court.

To find an experienced real-estate lawyer in Iowa, check out Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.

Learn More About Tax Appeals in Iowa

For more information on property taxes and tax appeals in Iowa, read An Introduction to Iowa Property Tax posted by the Iowa Department of Revenue.

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