Value and Classification Appeals
Valuation and Classification Notice
Each spring the County Assessor mails out a Notice of Valuation and Classification to every property owner in the county. If you believe the classification and/or the Estimated Market Value of your property is incorrect, you have several options. The first step is to do some research:
- Call or visit the Wabasha County Assessor’s Office to talk with an appraiser to review the information used to determine the market value for your property.
- Verify Assessor’s information about your property, such as the dimensions, age and condition of its structures.
- Review Assessor’s records to determine the market value of similar properties in your neighborhood.
- Review sales data to find out what similar properties in your area are selling for.
- Check real estate ads in your newspaper to get an idea of the asking price of local properties.
- Ask someone in the Assessor’s Office to explain the criteria used for classifying your property. You may also review the classification of other property used in the same manner as yours.
Appealing Your Assessment
You have the right to appeal your market value estimate and/or classification if you feel your property is:
- Classified Improperly
- Valued at a level different from similar property in your area
First, talk to one of the appraisal staff in the Assessor’s Office as soon as possible after you receive your Notice of Valuation and Classification. Your issues and concerns can often be resolved at this level before making a formal appeal. Keep in mind that there is a narrow time window in which to make your appeal. Other than a mid-year homestead classification change, the Assessor's office staff can make changes to Estimated Market Values and classifications only up until the time the Local Boards of Appeal and Equalization or Open Book Meetings convene. Subsequent changes in your favor can only be granted by action of the LBAE, the County Board of Appeal and Equalization, or the Minnesota Tax Court.
Local Boards of Appeal (LBAE) or Open Book Meetings
If you have not successfully resolved the valuation and/or classification issues after talking with one of the appraisal staff, you will always have the opportunity to formally appeal at the local (city or township) level. The date, time, and place of that meeting are printed on the valuation notice. The business of the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization, which is comprised of members of the city council or town board, is to hear any and all formal appeals on valuation or classification and to make adjustments, if any, which they deem appropriate based on the evidence presented. Representatives from the Assessor's office are in attendance as resource persons only and can not make any valuation or classification changes once the meeting convenes. That responsibility is reserved for the LBAE body only. For those jurisdictions which are ineligible to conduct a LBAE, the date, time, and location of the Open Book meetings are printed on the valuation notice instead. At an Open Book Meeting, the Assessor or an Appraiser from the Assessor's department generally meet one-on-one with the appellants, without the council or board members in attendance, to also hear each first-level formal appeal and make or not make any adjustments which (s)he deems appropriate.
This first level of formal appeal can be initiated by letter, e-mail, or telephone to the Assessor’s Office or the city/board clerk or the taxpayer or his representative can simply appear at the time and place of the meeting. The latter is not recommended, however, since that taxpayer will not be heard until those with appointments have been, and supporting property record cards and comparable sales data might not be brought to the meeting. It is important to come prepared with any information you have collected to show why you believe your estimated market value or classification is incorrect, such as a recent appraisal of your property, recent sales of similar properties, etc. “My taxes are too high!” is not a substantive reason for having your valuation or classification adjusted. The Minnesota Legislature has provided for local Truth in Taxation meetings in December to deal with issues relating to the level of taxation for each jurisdiction.
County Board of Appeal and Equalization (CBAE)
Anyone who has appealed at the first-level LBAE or Open Book will have their appeal automatically registered at the County Board of Appeal and Equalization (CBAE) meeting, which also meets on the date, time, and place printed on the Notice of Valuation and Classification. No one who has not appealed at the first level can have an appeal heard or acted upon by the CBAE. In a similar fashion, the business of the County Board as a CBAE is to hear all continued appeals on valuation or classification and to make adjustments, if any, which they deem appropriate based on the information available. Representatives from the Assessor's office will again be in attendance as resource persons only and can not make any valuation or classification changes. That responsibility is reserved for the CBAE body only.
Minnesota Tax Court
If your concern is still not resolved, you have until April 30th of the year the tax becomes payable to appeal your assessment to the Minnesota Tax Court. In other words, you have until April 30th of the year following your LBAE and CBAE appeals to petition the Tax Court. Depending upon the classification and Estimated Market Value of the property being appealed and the degree of legal representation desired, a taxpayer can petition the Minnesota Tax Court’s Small Claims Division or Regular Division. Many persons represent themselves in the Small Claims Division, but the judge’s decision is final and cannot be appealed further. The Regular Division will hear all appeals, usually with legal counsel. Decisions made here can be appealed to a higher court. For more information, call the Minnesota Tax Court at 651-296-2806.