What Does The Assessor Do?
The assessor is required by Utah Law to list and value all property subject to ad valorem taxation on an assessment roll each year. The “ad valorem” basis for taxation means that all property should be taxed “according to value” which is the definition of ad valorem. The assessed value is a percentage of “fair market value” or “use value” as prescribed by law. Property is assessed as follows:
LAND - 100% of its “fair market value” or “use value.”
RESIDENTIAL IMPROVEMENTS - 100% of “fair market value”. The Utah Constitution allows a residential exemption or reduction in taxable value of 45% . The residential exemption is limited to one primary residence per household.
COMMERCIAL PROPERTY - (Including personal property) -100% of “fair market value.”
The Kane County Assessor’s office must appraise and assess approximately 16,500 parcels of property. All public service properties and mines are assessed by the Utah State Tax Commission.
What The Assessor Does Not Do
The assessor does not raise or lower taxes. The assessor does not make the laws which affect property owners. The Constitution of the State of Utah, as adopted by the voters, provides the basic framework for taxation, and tax laws are made by the Utah Legislature. The rules and regulations for assessment are set by the Utah Tax Commission. The tax dollars are levied by the taxing bodies, such as the cities and towns, school board, special service districts, etc., and are collected by the Kane County Treasurer. The assessors office has nothing to do with the total amount of taxes collected. The assessor’s primary responsibility is to find the “fair market value” of your property so that you may pay only your fair share of the taxes. The amount of taxes you pay is determined by a “tax rate” applied to your property’s assessed value. The tax rate is determined by all the taxing agencies within a district, city or county, and those rates fixed by Utah Law. The tax rate is the basis for the budget needed or demanded by the voters to provide for services such as schools, roads, law enforcement, etc. Tax rates are simply those rates which will provide funds to pay for those services.
How Is Your Assessment Determined?
To arrive at “fair market value” for your property, the assessor must know what “willing sellers” and “willing buyers” are doing in the marketplace. He must also keep current on cost of construction in the area and any changes in zoning, financing, and economic conditions which may affect property values. The assessor uses the three nationally recognized appraisal approaches to value those being cost, income, and market. This data is then correlated into a final value estimate by the appraiser. After your appraisal has been made, the appropriate percentage of value required by law is calculated as your “assessed value.”
What Is Fair Market Value?
Fair market value is defined by Utah Property Tax Act 59-2-102 as follows:
“Fair market value” means the amount at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.
Finding the “fair market value” of your property involves discovering the price most people would pay for it in its present condition. It is not quite that simple, however, because the assessor has to find what this value would be for every property every year. The assessor’s job doesn’t stop there. He must immediately begin gathering sales and other data for future years as the market is constantly changing.
How Are Taxes Calculated?
Tax rates are based on rates (millages), bond issues, and fees that have been voted by registered voters in the various districts which have been established by the Legislature or Constitution. The tax monies collected for the districts go to pay for schools, roads, law enforcement, fire protection, and other services that the taxpayers demand and desire from local government. To calculate the taxes on your property, you must take the assessed value, which is a percentage of “fair market value”, and multiply it by the appropriate tax or millage rate to arrive at the amount due. If, as an example, you have $1,000 of taxable assessed value and the appropriate tax rate in 70 mills, you would pay $1,000 x 0.070 = $70 in taxes. If your home is valued at $100,000 and assessed at 100 percent, or $100,000, and you are eligible and have signed for a primary residential exemption, you would calculate your taxes as follows:
$100,000 (Assessed Value)
- 45,000 (Primary Residential Exemption)
55,000 (Taxable Value)
x .015 (Tax Rate)
$ 825 (Total taxes due)
How Can My Taxes Increase?
When additional taxes are voted by the people an individual’s property tax bill will increase. Also, when market value increases, naturally, so does the assessed value. If you were to make improvements to your existing property, for instance, add a garage, an additional room, or a swimming pool, the “fair market value” and, therefore, the assessed value would also increase. The assessor has not created the value. People make value by their transactions in the marketplace. The assessor simply has the legal and moral responsibility to study those transactions and appraise your property accordingly.
What If I Disagree With The Assessor’s Value Of My Property?
As a taxpayer, you have certain legal responsibilities to furnish correct information on your property to the assessor’s office. If you have complied with these legal requirements, you are entitled to question values placed on you property. If your opinion of the value of your property differs from the assessor’s, by all means go to the office and discuss the matter. Be prepared to show evidence that their valuation is too high. The staff will be glad to answer your questions about the assessor’s appraisal, explaining how it was done. The assessor’s office must rely on the property owner for information, and you can help by providing accurate data. If after discussing the matter with the assessor, a difference of opinion still exists, you may appeal your assessment to the Kane County Board of Equalization. If the Board, after hearing your petition, agrees with the assessor, you may appeal this decision to the Utah State Tax Commission. If the Commission agrees with the Board and the assessor, you can then plead your case before the courts should you choose to do so.
Important Dates For Property Owners
Property is assessed as to condition and ownership as of this date.
Deadline for signing primary residential exemption and FAA application.
Tax roll must be filed by this date.
Deadline for filing valuation appeals to Board of Equalization.
Property taxes are due and payable by this date and become delinquent thereafter.
The preceding is designed to give the Kane County taxpayer a brief overview of the duties and responsibilities of your assessor’s office and some information which might be of interest to the property owner. It has always been my belief that the property owner has every right to know how an agency that affects him functions.
Should you ever need or want additional information concerning your property taxes or the laws governing them, please contact your assessor’s office. We are here to serve you.
J. Ryan Maddux, Kane County Assessor