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
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