Most communities in New Hampshire will be sending out their Tax Year 2013 property tax bills this fall. These tax bills have an assessing date of April 1, 2013. If a person is aggrieved by the assessment he may file an Abatement Application with the local assessor by March 1, 2014. The Abatement Application must be signed by the aggrieved person. The signature of an agent or attorney alone is not sufficient. If the applicant is still aggrieved by the actions or inactions of the assessor he may appeal to the State Board of Tax and Land Appeals or to The Superior Court in the county where the property is located, but not both. There the aggrieved person will be afforded a trial on the merits of his case. Further appeals beyond that are reserved for questions of law only and not questions of fact.
If your Application for Abatement of property taxes is denied by the local assessor, and you wish to appeal that denial you can file a petition with the Appellate Tax Board. At the Appellate Tax Board you will be granted a hearing where a permanent record is made and the rules of evidence apply. The Appellate Tax Board is the final arbiter of fact and only questions of law can be appealed. The Appellate Tax Board consists of five members appointed by the Governor. Not more than three members of the Appellate Tax Board may be from the same political party. The term of appointment for each member is six years. After six years, a member must be reappointed if he or she wishes to continue to serve. The process of appointment and reappointment is political in nature. It is wise for a taxpayer seeking property tax abatement to be aware of this fact.
In Rhode Island property tax appeals are tried in the Superior Court. The trial may be before a Judge or a Jury. In any tax assessment challenge, the assessor must first present his or her conclusion as to fair market value and methodology that was implemented to arrive at that conclusion. The taxpayer then puts on its case challenging the assessor’s methodology or conclusion as to a fair market value or both. The taxpayer then has the burden of proving that the conclusion of fair market or the methodology used was improper. This procedure though somewhat unusual makes sense in that it makes the issues at hand clearer in their entirety for the Judge and or Jury. In other words the whole picture is presented. It is important to keep in mind that notwithstanding this procedure the burden of proving overvaluation is upon the taxpayer.
In Massachusetts the cost approach to value is usually is not relied upon by the Appellate Tax Board in order to ascertain fair market value. In those rare cases that the cost approach to value is relied upon, such as in the valuation of a special purpose building, the Appellate Tax Board will only accept testimony regarding the cost to construct from a cost expert. A cost expert is either an architect, contractor, or engineer. A real estate appraiser regardless of his or her experience in appraising will usually not be allowed to testify as to cost unless he or she is also an architect, contractor, or engineer. This rule regarding cost evidence is somewhat unique to Massachusetts. It is reasoned that real estate appraisers are not qualified to give evidence as experts to cost because their training and experience is not in the field of construction.
Now is the time for Rhode Island taxpayers to preserve their right of appeal for Tax Year 2013 by filing an account with the local assessor. In most jurisdictions the Tax Year 2013 tax bill will be sent out during the summer of 2013. The Tax Year 2013 tax bill has a valuation or assessing date of December 31, 2012. In most cases the filing of a valid account by January 31, 2013 is a prerequisite to a valid appeal. The account must describe the property, claim a value of the property, and be signed under oath and notarized. Occasionally the assessors do not send out account forms. It is incumbent upon the taxpayer to seek out a form and properly complete and file it. It is possible for a taxpayer to construct his own account form but it must include all the required information and be signed under oath and notarized.
Most jurisdictions in Massachusetts will be sending out their fiscal year 2013 actual property tax bills by the end of December 2012. The fiscal year 2013 pertains to the fiscal period July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. The assessing date for fiscal year 2013 is January 1, 2012. For fiscal year 2013 each parcel of property must be assessed at the fair market value as of January 1, 2012. An owner, taxpayer or person who has an interest in the property in most cases has until February 1, 2013 to file an Application for Abatement with the local Board of Assessors. In most cases all property taxes must be paid timely without incurring interest in order to effectuate a valid appeal. The Assessors have three months to act upon the Application for Abatement. If the Assessors fail to act upon the Application it is deemed to be denied.
The New Hampshire Department of Revenue will be publishing its Tax Year 2012 ratio list within the next several months. This ratio list is very important as it reports the median assessment ratios of each community in New Hampshire as of April 1, 2012 which is the assessing date for Tax Year 2012. The filing deadline for Tax Year 2012 Abatement Applications is generally March 1, 2013. Applicants cannot be fully aware of the merits of their Application until they know the assessment ratio. To a certain extent applicants are operating in the dark until the ratio lists are published. In New Hampshire the market value of real estate must be multiplied by the assessment ratio in order to arrive at a proper assessed value. Due to a general decline in real estate values increasingly the assessment ratios are exceeding 100%. Thus the proper assessed value can be in excess of the market value.