Protesting Property Tax Valuations: Reasons to Protest

Previously this Blog has discussed the Key Dates and Deadlines to remember for 2020 when protesting property valuations, and the process of protesting property valuations. This post will explore the reasons to protest the county’s assessed valuation of your property and considerations to make when deciding whether your property has been overvalued.

Property valuations are a local government’s way of determining the amount of the following year’s property taxes on an individual’s real property. A lower valuation generally means lower property taxes, while the opposite is true for higher valuations and taxes. A valuation should accurately reflect current market value and should be comparable with other similarly situated properties in the area.

There are several ways a property owner can prove or find evidence and support of the current property value of their real property. A recent sale can help prove current value, or alternatively a property owner can research sales for comparable properties. Property owners can check their county of residence’s property records, and also research assessed valuations for similar properties.

Once you have proven a valuation of your property, there may be numerous reasons why the county’s assessed valuations on your property are wrong. Below are just a few examples of scenarios in which a property valuation may be overvalued by the county and need to be protested:

• Real property may be overvalued when it is damaged, such as a cracked foundation or a damaged roof, and not be included in county’s valuation.
• Real property may be overvalued if the county makes a mistake and miscalculates the square footage of a building.
• Real property may be overvalued if it sits on the market too long and is at a price different than the county’s previous valuation.
• Office buildings may be overvalued if there is less leasable space than the county’s records show.
• Office Buildings or Multi-Family Properties may be overvalued because the county compares them other similar buildings, but does not take into consideration that the overvalued building may be equipped for less tenants than the buildings compared against.
• Multi-Family or Commercial Hospitality Properties may be overvalued because the county miscalculated the valuations when considering income, expenses, and vacancy rates of the buildings.

If you have property that you believe has been overvalued, you should take a few steps before filing a protest with the county during the protest time period each year. First, as mentioned above, gather information about your real property, to see if a protest of the assessed value is warranted.

• Verify information such as the dimensions, square footage, age, and condition of structures on your property.
• Research the assessed valuations of properties in the area around your own property.
• Monitor the real estate market to see what houses in your area are selling for.

If, after doing your research you conclude the assessed valuation is overvalued, set up an informal discussion with the county assessor to attempt to resolve the issue with your property. The county assessor should be able to explain to you the assessed value of your property, answer questions you have, and review additional information you can provide. If the issue is not resolved after discussions with the county assessor, then consider the formal protest process with your respective county’s Board of Equalization.

The property tax valuation protest process at times can be complex and daunting. Attorneys at Vandenack Weaver can assist you at any step of the protest process and help identify why the county’s valuation is wrong and help you, the property owner, save money on property taxes for the upcoming tax year.

VW Contributor: Ryan Coufal
© 2019 Vandenack Weaver LLC
For more information, Contact Us

Property Tax Valuation Protest Process

Previously this Blog discussed the Key Dates and Deadlines to remember for 2020 when protesting property tax valuations. To build upon that, this Blog Post Entry will discuss the actual Property Tax Valuation Protest Process itself. Just as it is important to remember the deadlines for protesting property tax valuations, it is important to understand the process in how to protest the valuations.

Under Nebraska Statute, all real property subject to taxation shall be assessed by the County Assessor as of January 1st at 12:01 a.m. and be used as a basis of taxation until the next assessment unless the property is destroyed, and the County Assessor is required to complete this assessment by either March 19th or 25th depending on whether the county in which you reside has under or over one hundred and fifty thousand residents (150,000), respectively. Then, on or before June 1st the County Assessor is required to notify the owner of record of the property as of May 20, of every item of real property that is assessed at a value different than the previous year. That notice shall be given by first-class mail addressed to the owner’s last known address, and must identify the item of real property, state the old and new valuation, the date of convening of the county board of equalization, and the dates for filing a protest.

When you, as a property owner, receive notice of a change in your property tax valuation and you disagree with that valuation, or you disagree with a previous year’s valuation, you may file a written protest with your County Board of Equalization. The deadline to do so is June 30th. Each protest must be filed with the county clerk of the county in which the property is assessed. The protest must also:

• Be signed by the property owner, or a person authorized to protest on behalf of the owner, and indicate such
• Contain, or have attached, a statement the reasons why a change to the county’s valuation should be made
• Contain a description of the protested property.
o If real property, a description of each parcel protested shall be included.
o If tangible personal property, a physical description of the property shall be included

It is vitally important that these requirements be met when submitting a written protest, or the County Board of Equalization will dismiss the protest. Only in the event of the person signing the protest not being the property owner or an authorized person, will the county clerk mail a copy of the owner of the property and notify them.

The County Board of Equalization will meet for the purpose of reviewing, conducting hearings, and deciding upon written protests from June 1st through July 25th of each year. If the county has a population greater than one hundred and fifty thousand (>150,000), they may extend the deadline of hearings through August 10th. The County Board of Equalization shall fairly and impartially equalize the values of all items of real property so that all real property is assessed uniformly and proportionately.

If, after the decision of a County Board of Equalization, a property owner is not satisfied with the decision of the Board, they may file an appeal with the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC). The TERC consists of three commissioners, with each being from one of the federal congressional districts and appointed by the Governor with approval of a majority of the Nebraska Legislature. Appeals must be made by August 24th, or September 10th if the county adopted a resolution extending the deadline for the hearings to August 10th. At an appeal hearing before the TERC, a property owner will be afforded to present evidence and argue their case in an evidentiary hearing setting. The property owner on appeal must provide evidence that the County Board of Equalization’s decision was incorrect, or it was unreasonable or arbitrary. The burden is on the property owner to rebut the presumption that the County Board of Equalization failed to faithfully perform their duties.

If, after a decision of the TERC, a property owner is still not satisfied with the decision, they may appeal the TERC’s decision to the Nebraska Court of Appeals, subjecting themselves to Nebraska judiciary rules and statutes. However, the Court of Appeals will have limited scope to only reviewing errors on the record before the TERC.

The property tax valuation protest process at times can be complex and daunting. Attorneys at Vandenack Weaver can assist you at any step of the protest process and help identify why the county’s valuation is wrong and help you, the property owner, save money on property taxes for the upcoming tax year.

VW Contributor: Ryan Coufal
© 2019 Vandenack Weaver LLC
For more information, Contact Us

Will the United States Enact a Federal Law on Privacy?

By Alex Rainville

With corporate giants like Amazon, IBM, Citigroup, and 48 others pushing for federal legislation on privacy, will the United States Congress act? In a letter to Congress, dated September 10, 2019, these corporate giants are pushing for a “comprehensive consumer data privacy law” that will stabilize the myriad of state rules.

In the absence of federal legislation, individual states have taken the responsibility for legislating consumer privacy and data security standards. In fact, Alabama was the last to enact such a law, and that law has been in effect since June 1, 2018. However, most individuals are unaware of their rights and, importantly, most businesses are unsure of how, or are simply unable, to comply with many of the state laws. Even the much-publicized California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) remains a challenge for businesses to comply with, and many businesses remain unaware that they are subject to this rules even though they reside outside of California.

This push for federal privacy legislation comes on the heels of the European Union enacting and implementing the General Data Protection Regulation, which ushered in an unprecedented level of privacy measures for European Union Data Subjects and regulatory burdens for data controllers and processors. Will the US Congress follow suit and implement a federal data privacy law? Only time will tell, but businesses should be prepared to comply with each state rule, as enforcement and fines for failure to comply have started to hit US companies of all size.

© 2019 Vandeanck Weaver LLC
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Are There Tax Advantages to Investing in Real Estate?

There are tax advantages to investing in real estate. Probably the largest value is that you can depreciate the property both for real estate under section 1250 of the code and personal property under 1245 of the code. By having those depreciation deductions, you can create cash flow that is not taxable and distribute it out to yourself as opposed to leaving it in the real estate entity.

© 2014 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

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