Every three years, county assessors across West Virginia conduct routine property tax assessments. The three-year cycle varies from county to county, but invariably, if you are a property owner, you’re likely to receive “A Notice of Increase of Assessment” sooner or later.
In keeping with state code, assessors must notify owners when property values have increased by 10% or more. Many property owners don’t realize they have a right to appeal an unjust increase in property tax, but the window to do so is very narrow.
You must file a written petition for informal review with your county assessor within 8 days of receipt of the Notice of Increase in Assessment. A written protest may also be accepted by the clerk of your county commission during the month of February. The specific deadlines will be outlined in your notice. It is important to note that simply not paying the tax is not a proper route to appeal. This could result in loss of the property.
According to a Forbes article, “How You Can Save Money By Appealing Your Property Tax Assessment” that cites the National Taxpayers Union, approximately 60% of properties are overvalued by assessors, and only 2% of property owners ever appeal their tax increases. It’s worth reviewing the details of your assessment increase because odds are your property may have been overvalued.
There are several reasons why your property may have been overvalued. Tax assessor offices don’t have enough staff to personally visit each property during the tri-annual assessment period. Commonly assessors are using broad strokes to assess the property value in a neighborhood or specific area of the county. This does not consider the unique circumstances of each property. For example, a natural disaster may have impacted the value of your property, something the assessor has no way of knowing.
Besides, mistakes happen. Sometimes the property description the assessor is using to value your property is simply wrong. The square footage may be incorrect or there could be any number of other errors affecting the property’s value. If you have recently had an appraisal due to sale or refinancing, that appraisal can be used to appeal incorrect information or a higher appraisal calculated by the assessor’s office. Or, you may be able to use the value appraisals of properties near yours to make an argument for an incorrect assessment.
If your tax increase is significant, it may be worth it to seek legal advice. The partners of Wooton, Davis, Hussell & Ellis, LLC. advise clients, both corporate and individual, on issues related to tax law. If you have recently received a Notice of Increase of Assessment from a WV county assessor and you think you may be among the 60% of property owners whose property has been overvalued, contact us. A brief consultation couldn’t hurt.