The Virginia legislature is making efforts to help its citizens regain money lost to unfair property tax assessments.
Unfairly assessed property taxes have become endemic along with the continuing fall in housing prices. Many people may not know that they are overpaying on their property taxes by hundreds and thousands of dollars. Homeowners are often reluctant to file property tax appeals, even if they believe their homes are over assessed, as the process of preparing the necessary paperwork, filing the appeal and waiting for the results is notoriously opaque and time consuming. In addition, homeowners are reluctant to use costly property tax appeal “consultants”, many of whom have little knowledge of the actual valuation market.
Overpayment of property taxes has become so widespread that the State of Virginia has written legislation to rectify the situation and alleviate some of the burden on the tax payer in the process.
In February 2010, the Virginia legislature amended 55.1-3379 and 58.1-3984 of the Code of Virginia that affects all property owners in the state. Prior to the amendment, the burden was on the tax payer to prove unfair property assessments before the Property Tax Appeal Board. The new amendment shifts this burden of proof to the assessor when the property owner seeks relief because of an unfair assessment on their property:
B. The burden of proof shall be upon the assessor when a taxpayer seeks relief because the property in question is valued at more than its fair market value, the assessment is not uniform in its application, or the assessment is otherwise not equalized.
C. The commissioner of the revenue or other local assessing officer of such county or city shall, when requested, attend the meetings of the board, without additional compensation, and shall call the attention of the board to such inequalities in real estate assessments in his county or city as may be known to him.
This means that now when a Virginia homeowner submits comparable sales evidence to support a lower assessed value for their home, the assessor must submit better comparables sales to support their higher value. Previously the assessor could just say “No”.
The Virginia Legislature is making efforts to help its citizens regain money lost through unfair property tax assessments. They should be applauded for their efforts and we hope more states will follow suit.
Virginia Legislation HB 570 has failed in Committee. The bill would have shifted the burden of proof from the taxpayer to the Assessor when taxpayer has appealed the assessment of a property to a board of equalization or a circuit court. Now, more than ever, ValueAppeal is positioned to help alleviate much of the work for Virginia residents who seeking a value reassessment