If you think the assessed valuation of your home as shown on your 1988 tax notice from Salt Lake County is too high, you can still appeal and maybe lower your property tax bill.
But you'll have to hurry. The deadline for appeals to the county Board of Equalization is 5 p.m. Aug. 31.By Friday afternoon, about 7,250 county residents already had filed appeals, and a total of 12,000 are expected before the deadline, said Mike Reed, director of the tax division of the county auditor's office.
Some of those who are appealing say a drop in local property values has left their homes worth less than their tax notices claim. County Assessor Robert Yates says that's entirely possible, but to get the assessed valuation reduced you must appeal.
"The law states it's the property owner's responsibility to appeal during this certain time of year if he feels his home is overvalued," Yates said. "There are 247,000 individual parcels of property in the county. There is no way the assessor's office has the manpower to contact each owner. We know there will be miscalculations. That's why there is a board of equalization."
Most of those who appeal are successful in getting a valuation reduction. In 1985 for example, 95 percent of those who appealed had the value of their properties lowered. The reductions averaged 91 percent of the amount sought, and reduced valuations by an average of 24 percent.
For some homeowners, that can mean an actual property tax reduction of hundreds of dollars. But those who plan to appeal had better prepare their case and bring their evidence, Yates advises.
Anyone who feels their home is overvalued can appeal between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday in the lobby of the north building at the Salt Lake County Government Center, 2001 S. State. Wednesday, Aug. 31, is the last day appeals can be filed for this year.
The appeals process is as follows:
-Each appellant has his or her name officially registered and receives a form to fill out. To get a reduction, property owners must prove the assessor's appraisal of their property is too high.
This proof - such as an outside professional appraisal of the home, or a list of comparable homes in the neighborhood that recently have sold for less - must be presented at the time of your appeal. Homeowners can get lists of recently sold comparable properties from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.
-A screening officer will review the appeal with the homeowner. If the officer agrees with the information presented, he can offer a reduction of the property value on the spot. If the offer is accepted, it will later be ratified by the County Commission, which also sits as the Board of Equalization.
The screening officer may want the assessor's office to more closely review the information. The homeowner will then be notified of the decision later by mail.
-If the owner is dissatisfied with the decision, he can request a hearing before a hearing officer, who will forward his recommendation to the Board of Equalization.
- If property owners are unhappy with the board's decision, they can appeal to the State Tax Commission. If a further appeal is necessary, the courts are the final arbiter.
Reed advises anyone still planning an appeal to come in as soon as possible. The lines will only get longer as the deadline draws closer, he said.
Property tax payments are due Nov. 30. Late payments are subject to penalties and interest, even if an owner's appeal has not been settled by Nov. 30.
If an appeal has not been settled by the payment deadline, the property owner should pay the full amount due as shown on the tax notice. A refund with interest will be made if the appeal is decided in the owner's favor.