Friday, August 12, 2022

Tax tip could save you grief galore

| July 15, 2022 1:00 AM

Your odds of winning the BOE Lottery are roughly 450-1.

But understand going in that your winnings might not amount to a red cent.

The BOE — Board of Equalization — is actually the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners. Chris Fillios, Bill Brooks and Leslie Duncan, like all their predecessors, are tasked with the time-consuming but important summertime function of hearing each and every appeal of property assessments by the people who own those properties.

In a typical year, Brooks told The Press, the BOE might hear 50 or so appeals. But according to the county’s communications coordinator, Jonathan Gillham, 762 property owners filed appeals this time around. Since June 24, commissioners have been hearing cases most weekdays all day long. They hope to stagger across the finish line by next Tuesday.

As of last Tuesday, about 450 cases had been completed, with just one “winner” able to claim victory. But this is where things get sticky.

Property owners who think the county has unfairly assessed the value of their property may fill out an appeal form, one for each parcel in question. They’re first encouraged to contact the Assessor’s Office by phone or email, but many don’t. And the reason so many “lose” their appeal is likely because they didn’t fully understand what they were doing in the first place.

According to the county, “The function of the Board of Equalization is simply to assure that the market value placed on your property by the County is fair and accurate. The Board cannot adjust value based on the amount of taxes due or on your ability to pay the amount on your Property Tax Statement.”

The real rub is this: Even if you’re in that .002 winning percentage and convince the BOE to lower your assessed value significantly, your next property tax bill — which hasn’t even been calculated yet — could be higher. Or it could be lower.

Overall tax rates for next year are expected to be lower than this year. Even though your property’s assessed value might have ballooned in ‘22, your personal piece of the payment pie might actually be a bit smaller because the value countywide has gone up so much. You might hate all the new growth and construction, but by golly, that’s why your payment share could actually go down — because new growth and construction are paying up.

While it’s too late to appeal your property assessment this year — for that you can be thankful — we’ll leave you with something useful going forward:

That’s a nifty calculator to help you estimate what you’re going to owe in property taxes. Have your assessment statement at hand and make sure you select Kootenai County on the website. While an assessment often sets off false alarms, the website will give you a much clearer idea what your property tax bill should look like.

And next year? Call the assessor before blowing a fuse based on that piece of paper showing your property's assessed value.

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