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.
To successfully challenge the taxable value, you’ll need to establish at least one of the following facts:
If you’re convinced that any of these facts is true, consider the following strategy for trying to get your taxable value reduced.
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.
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.
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.
In pursuing your appeal, several types of evidence may be useful, including:
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.
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.
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.