GUEST COMMENTARY: How you can appeal your property tax assessment

2013-10-06T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: How you can appeal your property tax assessmentBy Joe Wszolek nwitimes.com
October 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It’s that time of year again when leaves are turning color and Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder is mailing the now annual Form 11 property assessment notices. Their September arrival means our local governments can continue providing public safety and our quality of life – without having to borrow.

The date of mailing of the Form 11 creates the 45-day window to appeal the assessment. Missing the window misses the opportunity for this year.

Filing an appeal in Porter County can be done in person or online at www.PorterCountyAssessor.com -- when the window of opportunity is open. Appealing includes the possibility of you having the burden to prove your assessment is incorrect.

The first step is meeting with the assessor. Everywhere except Portage Township, this means the county assessor.

If the assessment increased by more than 5 percent, assuming no changes to the property have been made from the prior year, the assessor has the burden initially to prove the assessment is correct. If the assessor presents sufficient market-based evidence supporting the assessment, the burden then shifts to you to do the same that best supports your opinion.

If the change is 5 percent or less, assuming no changes to the property have been made from the prior year, the burden of proof falls first on you and then the assessor. In either case, the evidence needs to be market-based (a Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice compliant appraisal from a licensed appraiser; completed or attempted sales of the property; sales, attempted sales or assessments of comparable properties). A USPAP compliant appraisal is not required but is considered to be of the best pieces of evidence.

Income property is a bit more complex and can have its income and expenses considered as evidence as well.

If you resolve your appeal at this level, then all is done. If not, you have the option to file to have the three-member Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals hear your appeal. Two members are appointed by the county commissioners and the third by the County Council. The board is independent from the assessor to ensure equity and fairness of assessments.

The PTABOA hearing is somewhat informal, but the market-based evidence requirement is the same. In every case, the presentation needs to include a walk-through of the evidence so the board can have a clear understanding of its comparability to ensure a reasonable judgment can be made.

The process might sound daunting, but no one should feel intimidated. The PTABOA members are committed to making fair and equitable decisions based on all credible evidence presented and current state codes and statutes.

There are additional appeal opportunities if you disagree with the PTABOA decision. Complete information about the appeal process can be found online at www.in.gov/dlgf/2508.htm.

Joe Wszolek is president of the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals. The opinions are the writer's.

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