2019 NOTICE OF VALUATION OF PROPERTY TAXES IN EAGLE COUNTY
On May 1, 2019 owners in Eagle County and throughout Colorado began receiving their 2019 Notice of Valuation for property taxes in Eagle County. This is the amount that is used to determine your property taxes for the next two years. This blog post is to help you decide whether you should consider taking any action to protest your Property Valuation. If you would like to review basic information about the basis of how residential property taxes are calculated in Colorado then make sure you first read my post on this topic. I warn you that you should not operate heavy machinery after reading as it as it is likely to cause drowsiness! But for those of you that just like to understand everything, particularly when it is the government taking your money, I created that post for you.
HOW TO REVIEW YOUR PROPERTY VALUATION
First check the valuation date condition (new construction only):
They are valuing your property as of its condition on January 1, 2019. Make sure that if you are new construction that they have you at the proper completion level.
The assessor provides this Appeals Questionnaire (click here) that you may find useful in tracking some of what I describe below.
First Check Your Property Statistics For Accuracy
Here is a link to see the 2017 definitions on the County Assessor’s website from the 2017 assessment (they haven’t updated it for 2019 yet but it will be virtually identical other than dates will change from 2017 to 2019). This will give you a good idea of many of the statistics in question. Pay particular attention to accuracy of size and quantities listed for your property (i.e. how many bathrooms and bedrooms, lot size etcetera), and whether the building quality code and depreciation level seems accurate.
The assessor’s website also describes how the assessor comes up with the effective square footage that they use in their calculation. After reviewing how they come up with the effective square footage you can at least ballpark to make sure it seems relatively close. Check the building quality code assigned to your property which is based upon things like quality of the workmanship, the type of materials used and the design. It is important to note that you can have an excellent quality for a home that is due for a remodel as this is reflected in the depreciation and not the quality.
If after you review your statistics and feel they seem relatively accurate and if you still have concerns that the valuation is too high for your property, call the assessor’s office and ask them to review the building quality code for your house and what is typical for a property assigned your code. Also ask them to give you an understanding of the depreciation for your property and why.
One important fact to mention is that if you appeal your tax valuation, the assessor’s office very likely will come out to inspect the property as part of that process. Thus, keep in mind that if you have found inaccurate data that you feel will make your valuation reduce, you need to also consider if there is anything that is inaccurate on the report that will increase your valuation if known by the assessor (and therefore increase your taxes). The reason is that the assessor can and may increase your valuation if they determine that their data is inaccurate. That inaccuracy, once corrected, increases the market value of the property and your taxes. Here is a scenario to show as an example.
Property owner A notices that the building quality code is excellent for his property when he knows that the home has old appliances and hasn’t been remodeled. He appeals the valuation and someone from the tax assessor’s office comes out and determines that the property building quality’s “out of date” but that the tax records show 3 bedrooms rather than 4 bedrooms and there is missing square footage from an addition that was never updated in the assessor records. In this scenario you may end up with a higher valuation.
If The Statistics Look Good, Then Check the Comparable Sales Data
As of 5/1/19 the Eagle County Assessor will update their website with all current data for this tax assessment period (currently it still shows information from the last assessment period from two years ago). After 5/1/19 you can click here and you will find comparable sales data to check.
The main thing to check is how comparable are the comparables. Keep in mind that the greater the differences in your property to the comparables the greater the probability of there being an error in quantifying the market adjustment for that difference. Additionally the more varied the comparables are from one another, particularly in price per square foot. Don’t forget that the assessor is undertaking a massive effort to value all the property in the county so despite attentive efforts some errors will inevitably occur.
What To Do If You Still Feel Your Valuation Is Unreasonable
I recommend first contacting the county assessor’s office to review your property with them as well as the comparable sales. Do use caution that you don’t alert them to inaccuracies in your statistics inadvertently otherwise this could result in a tax increase for you. In my experience I have found the people in the assessor’s office to be very nice and helpful. However, they are willing to help and this is at no cost to you, but if your market value still doesn’t “add up” for you then you can consider contacting an appraiser and/or a local attorney who does tax evaluations, protests and appeals. They can review your property and help you determine what makes sense, to protest or not protest. You really need to do a cost benefit analysis of whether the savings are worth your time and the money spent.
Although I have not personally used these companies for property tax valuation services as my property valuations have always been “close enough,” the companies below are reputable in the area and have been handling these types of services for many years. One is a reputable local law firm that provides such services and another is a reputable local appraisal company. I do have experience with both companies for other services and have always been comfortable with them on other matters.
Pack Appraisal is a local appraisal office that has apparently been handling tax evaluations, protests and appeals in the county for the past 15 years. The appraisal office is certainly reputable so I would hope your experience would be a good one. They do offer various stages of review at what appears to be a reasonable expense. They also offer a “contingency” based appeal as well. Here is a link to their website with tons of information about the process of evaluating, protesting and appealing your tax valuation. https://online.eaglecountytaxappeal.com/
Stovall & Associates in Edwards has also been involved in evaluation, protest and appeal process over the years and you can contact them through their website to learn more information. I believe they have a letter they can email about the process and their price structure. http://vailvalleylaw.net/ Property owners who do not receive their Notice of Valuation soon after May 1, 2019 should contact the Assessor’s office to have it sent to you and to verify that your address is correct.
Eagle County Assessor
Click here to go to my next blog post about how to decide whether you should consider protesting your property valuation. Assuming that you haven’t fallen asleep! Also, feel free to call me with any comments or questions. Malia 970.977.1041.