Monday, December 18, 2006

Property values

This article in interesting from the Kenosha News-

There has been a big increase this year in number of Wisconsin cities, villages and towns either out of compliance with a Wisconsin law on tax reassessments, or on the verge of being so, the state Department of Revenue says.

Communities receive a warning from the agency when their total assessed value is less than 90 percent of the "full" or equalized value for four consecutive years.

There was no immediate words as to which communities received warnings.

The DOR said 213 are out of compliance with the law, and another 288 are on the verge, with the total up 60 percent over last year.

The total of 501 is also the largest number since 1999, when 509 of the state's roughly 1,850 communities were out of compliance or had received a warning from the state.

If the communities do not do a complete reassessment in the year following a warning, they are put on the noncompliant list, which eventually can result in a state-forced reassessment in the next year or so.

"A higher assessment doesn't automatically mean higher taxes," said Ryan Parsons, research associate for the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

Parsons said that, if the total property tax levy collected by the various taxing bodies remains the same, a higher assessment on an individual property would be offset by a reduction in the property tax rate.

But individual property tax bills will rise for properties with values that have risen more than those of other properties in the same community, according to Parsons and Jeffrey Browne, president of the Public Policy Forum.

Browne said the reason to reassess regularly is so properties are fairly valued and property owners consistently pay their share of taxes.

Barbara Davies, clerk for the Washington County town of Trenton, said some property owners will wrongly assume that their property tax bill will rise by the same percentage that their assessment increases in a reassessment there scheduled to begin in February.

But only properties with values that have increased faster than those of others in the town will see significant increases in their tax bill, she said.

Those who do see much higher property taxes after the reassessment might complain, Davies said.

"But you could make an argument that they've been getting a deal because they've been underassessed for five years,"she said.

I don't think anyone is snookered into believing that the DOR is doing anything more than grubbing for more tax dollars.

Property values are going down fast. 2 to 3 years ago, values were going up very fast. If the DOR cannot get these assessments in more quickly, then they cannot tax at the higher value of the property for the next few years.

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