At this time of year property owners in South Dakota receive their property tax assessments. It is important to compare this year’s assessment to last year’s. If your assessment has gone up, you will want to take a closer look at the new valuation to determine whether the value is fair or you need to make an appeal.
If you feel your property’s assessment may be too high, it’s important to act soon, as there is a limited window of time in which to appeal. Here are the deadlines:
• March 17 for property in a city, town, or organized township.
• April 5 for property outside of a local municipality.
• May 20 for an appeal to the state if you are unsuccessful in getting a reduction of assessed value at the city and county level.
So how do you know if you should appeal your assessed valuation? Here is the process I use to answer that question:
1. Is the increase in valuation above the average increase for the county? Shannon Rittberger, the Pennington County Director of Equalization, says the average increase in residential valuations for this year is 6%. Therefore, if your home’s assessed value jumped 10% you may want to look much closer at that increase. If your value increased just 1% you may want to pass on any further action.
2. Would you sell your property for the assessed value? The South Dakota constitution mandates that property be assessed at market value. If the answer is a definite “yes,” the property may well be assessed too high and you need to take a closer look at the valuation. If your response is “absolutely not,” your assessment may be low.
3. Is your property assessed much higher than properties in the same neighborhood that are exactly the same as yours? If so, you will want to take a closer look. Either yours is valued too high or they are too low.
Taking a closer look probably means doing two things. First send an email or a letter to the Pennington County Director of Equalization (and to the officials of your city or township if applicable) telling them you want to appeal the valuation. Do this before the appeal date if your valuation doesn’t pass one of my three tests above. Include the address of the property, the property ID on your valuation, and a phone number where they can reach you.
An appraiser with the DOE will contact you and come out and look at the property. They will want to be sure they don’t have something wrong. It’s not unusual that they may. If they do find an error, they will recommend a change to the county Board of Equalization and make the appeal process easier.
If they don’t feel there is a problem with the valuation, they will set a time for you to go before either a city or township board or the county board. You will probably want to get an appraisal or a comparable market analysis (which you really need to order right away) of the property to present to the Board to give some credence to your case.
If a city equalization board turns you down, your case will automatically go to the county board of equalization where you can make another appeal. If you don’t get your appraisal in time for the city boards you can always wait and make the appeal to the county board.
Information on property values, assessments, and the appeal process is available through the county Director of Equalization. Call there for information, or check out the county website.