If the tax assessment notice you got in late November is still in a pile of mail on the counter, it’s time to pull it out and take another look.
That’s because Bartholomew County property owners who disagree with the proposed value of their home only have until Friday to file an appeal before taxes come due this spring.
Usually property owners can file appeals after they get a final tax bill in the spring. But this year the appeals timeline was pushed forward by a general reassessment of all property in Indiana and the state updating cost tables used by assessors.
As part of that process, the state required Bartholomew County and other local governments to send a notice to property owners showing the latest assessments and how the new numbers compare with the previous home values.
In Bartholomew County, those notices were mailed Nov. 28.
“If you believe the assessment isn’t accurate, you have 45 days from the date on the notice to file an appeal,” Bartholomew County Assessor Lew Wilson said. “This will be the only chance to appeal.”
Taxpayers can file that appeal by downloading a form from the assessor’s office website.
Jodi Wright of Quality Appraisal Services in Columbus said she’s gotten numerous inquiries from property owners, and some are disputing the land values shown on their new assessments rather than value of the house or other structures on the site.
“A lot of times when people call, I try to help them understand how the assessor arrived at a certain value,” Wright said.
She said property owners who have refinanced mortgages also may be able to use that appraisal, if it was recent enough, to document comparable home sales in their neighborhood in a bid to prove the assessor overvalued their home.
“Luckily, in Bartholomew County, our assessor (Wilson) has a background as an appraiser for many years, so he can see both sides of the equation,” Wright said.
Wilson said he’s happy to review fresh data.
“The best evidence would be an official appraisal done in the last two years, but if someone has a three-year-old appraisal, I’d definitely consider it,” Wilson said. “If a home is over-assessed, I don’t want it that way.”
The completed appeals form can be hand-delivered by Friday’s deadline to the assessor’s office in the Bartholomew County Governmental Office Building, 440 Third St. Or, if a property owner chooses to mail the completed form, it must be postmarked by the Friday deadline.
Wilson said some homeowners have seen assessed values go up.
“Before this year, the value of properties were based on the state’s cost tables from 1999,” Wilson said. This year, the state issued new cost and depreciation tables, and that new data revealed some properties were undervalued.
Homeowners who agree with their assessments don’t have to take any action at this point, Wilson said.
If someone appeals, though, the assessor’s office will review the tabulations and may even inspect the property. The entire property is subject to review, and the final result could be a lower assessment, a higher one or the status quo.
The best evidence would be “any sales contracts or appraisals of the property, or documented information about recent sales of similar nearby properties,” Wilson said.
“Generalized data for the county or region is less reliable. Undocumented opinions of value — so-called letter appraisals — will not be considered,” he said.