It’s that time of year again, property tax change notifications have been issued and generated considerable buzz in Kearney and the surrounding areas. Owners of Buffalo County real estate have begun expressing concerns about the valuation of their real property and wondering what steps should be taken to address often unexpected increases in valuation and, thus, tax liability. The attorneys at Jacobsen Orr want you to be informed about how you might seek relief from property valuations that may be problematic. Of special note, this year’s property valuation protests will be heard by referees who were hired by the Buffalo County Board of Commissioners as a result of high levels of protests in recent years.
Please remember that you can try to meet with the county assessor (any time prior to June 30th) and have an informal discussion that may help to resolve an issue or concern you have regarding your property valuation.
If you are unable to visit with the Buffalo County Assessor, or after having done so, you are not satisfied with the result, you have two options: 1) Do nothing and the recent assessment will be your new valuation for tax purposes for 2017 and thereafter (unless changed in the future), or 2) File a protest with the Buffalo County Board of Equalization through the Buffalo County Clerk by June 30th.
If you file a protest (option 2 above), please note that the two issues that you are entitled to raise include: 1) Valuation and 2) Equalization. A protest based on valuation means a real property owner asserts that the real property is assessed for more than its market value. A protest based on equalization means a real property owner asserts that the real property is disproportionately valued in relation to similar properties. A real property owner can raise both valuation and equalization as reasons for protesting their real property valuation. The Buffalo County Assessor’s website has helpful information to help you make the decision to file, or not to file, a protest, as well as the Forms that you must use in order to perfect a protest.
Each person considering a protest of their property valuation should note these important requirements: 1) A protest will be dismissed if it is not filed by June 30, a written statement of the reasons for the protest is not provided, or the protest does not contain a description of the property; and 2) If protesting multiple parcels of real property, a separate protest must be filed for each parcel.
Not every case is appropriate for the filing of a protest. We can help you with this decision. Further, as you may know, an attorney is not required to handle a real property owner’s valuation protest, and in some cases it may not be cost effective to do so. However, we have successfully handled a number of real property valuation and equalization protests and appeals over the years and we urge you to consider whether hiring counsel would be helpful and beneficial to you in your situation. If so, please contact us before the applicable deadline.