Local property tax valuation and classification notices are being sent to all property owners in Crow Wing County.
These notices inform citizens of the assessed value of their property as of January based on sales of comparable properties between October 2019 and September. The assessed values are then used to calculate taxes due and payable in 2022.
Highlighted below are some of the major components — and challenges — of the property assessment process and issues to be aware of when reviewing your valuation notices:
A state-prescribed process. Although counties perform the bulk of assessment work in Minnesota, the policies and procedures they follow are determined by the state Legislature. State rules govern how the county classifies and values these properties, based on physical characteristics, use of the property, and sales of comparable properties during a prescribed period. In addition, state rules require county-assessed values to fall within a statistical range determined by the state.
The time lag confusion factor. The state’s assessment rules also require the county to use property sales that occurred as much as 18 months ago to determine assessed values. This time lag creates confusion when current market conditions do not reflect sales that occurred up to a year-and-a-half ago. In periods when real estate prices are rising, this time lag delays increases in valuations. But during times of declining values, it understandably generates inquiries from taxpayers concerned that the assessment does not reflect current market conditions.
Assessment vs. taxes. The spending decisions of local governments determine whether tax rates go up or down. Assessment valuations are determined without regard to tax rates, but according to comparable sales values as discussed above. The tax rate is determined at a later point, based upon the level of spending approved by local elected officials at the county, city, and township and school district levels. Local units of government determine how much they need to run their operation — values are only used to determine how big a share of that spending each person will have to pay.
Slicing the spending pie. Paying property taxes is like slicing a pie. Government spending is the pie. The value of each property determines how big a slice of that pie each property owner pays in taxes. There are five main reasons why a property owner may see higher taxes one year to the next. They are:
Government spending went up.
The property’s market value decreased at a lower rate than other properties.
The property’s market value increased at a higher rate than other properties.
The property classification changed.
The state changes the rules, as it did in 2011, converting the homestead credit to homestead exclusion.