January 9, 2018
Tax bills just hit the mailboxes of Hamilton County taxpayers this week, and our phone is ringing with questions about our Ohio property tax valuation reduction services.
Many of the cases have merit, and we are aiding those taxpayers in getting their taxes reduced. Others, not so much. Here’s a sample call:
Client: “Hey, I just got my tax bill and my valuation just went up by 40%. Can I challenge it?”
Attorney: “It depends. How does the Auditor’s new valuation of your property compare to the property’s true value?”
Client: “What do you mean ‘true value?'”
Attorney: “I mean, if you put the property on the market and offered it for sale, is the Auditor’s valuation lower than or higher than that value?.”
Client: “Oh, I would never sell it for that number. I mean, my property is worth a whole lot more than that.”
Attorney: “Then, don’t bring the case. The Board of Revision compares the Auditor’s valuation to the true value and adjusts the valuation accordingly. For single family homes, they use comparable sales of other properties. Actual sales.”
Client: “But my valuation went up by 40%! I mean there is no way my property increased in value 40% in three years.”
Attorney: “Well, that may be true, but how do we know the Auditor had not undervalued your property three years ago, and is just getting it right now?”
Client: “But the Auditor has my neighbor’s property valued for less than mine and the houses are the same.”
Attorney: “None of those things matter. They really don’t. The Board of Revision can’t even consider those things. The only question is the comparison of your home’s true worth versus how the Auditor has assessed it and that comparison hinges off of comparable sales in your neighborhood.”
Some basic concepts:
The concepts are hard to swallow sometimes:
- The Board of Revision takes a fresh look at valuation when a challenge is brought.
- How the Auditor’s current value compares to the true value of the property (typically as established by comparable sales in your neighborhood) is the only yardstick of value in the current cycle.
- The percentage increase of your property valuation from the prior cycle is completely irrelevant to that analysis. Completely.
- The Auditor’s opinion of the value of your neighbor’s property also is completely irrelevant to that question
- Both data and arguments relating to those issues are inadmissible before the Board of Revision. If you try to talk about those things at your hearing, you will be shot down by the panel. Period. Just don’t go there.
- The Auditor does not have to justify how he came up with his valuation of your property. In fact, he is completely within his rights and authority under Ohio law to choose any value he wants for your property for absolutely no justification at all. That’s simply how the law is written. It is the statutory prerogative of the Auditor. If you don’t like it, then YOU can run for Auditor.
- At a hearing, it is the taxpayer’s burden to prove the correct valuation. The Auditor does not have to prove anything.
- NOTE: The result of a Board of Revision challenge to your property’s valuation could well be an increase, rather than a reduction. Be forewarned.
- From 2008 to 2015 — throughout the real estate recession (some would say depression) — it was relatively easy to get valuations reduced for many properties. However, with the rising tide of real estate prices, those hoping for quick and easy savings should think twice. They may well get a surprise — an increase rather than a reduction.
- If you don’t like the law, don’t be mad at us. We are not legislators or judges. We didn’t make these rules.
Free how-to video:
Here is a complete videotaped seminar presented by attorney Christopher P. Finney on property tax valuation reduction with step-by-step instructions.