I have recently had clients ask me how to lower the assessed property tax valuation in Maricopa County in Arizona, as they believe there is an error in the Assessor's records. The issue came up because they are purchasing a home in DC Ranch in Scottsdale where the listed square footage is about 300 square feet more than the recent appraised measurement. The appraisal value came in lower as a result, but buyer and seller agreed to lower the purchase price to the appraised value.
Less square footage should mean lower taxes, correct? But what do you do if the county assessor has the wrong information in their records? This information comes directly from the Maricopa County Assessor office's website:
I have asked for a recheck of my property because I think there is an error in the Assessor's records. How long will that take?
Correction of errors are one of the Assessor's priorities. If you believe there is a factual error in the Assessor's records, we will have an appraiser recheck your property, usually within a few weeks of notification. The appraiser may or may not contact you directly depending upon the issue. If the error would cause an increase in the assessment, in most instances the correction will be made to the next tax year. If the correction would result in a decrease in the assessment, Assessor staff will correct the current assessment roll. The Assessor or property owner may also file administrative action to correct prior assessment rolls (see below for additional information).
If I have a factual correction that results in a decrease in my assessment, can I get my money back for prior years taxes?
More than likely, the answer is yes. If you file an administrative action via a Notice of Claim (ARS 42-16254) OR if the Assessor files an administrative action via a Notice of Proposed Correction (42-16252), you might be eligible for refunds for up to three prior years. This process is called a "resolution" and requires approval by various agencies before it can be completed. It normally takes several weeks before the process is completed and you receive a corrected tax bill from the Treasurer. The Treasurer notifies you by letter after they receive notification from the Assessor to make the change.
What do I have to do to report an error on your website?
Use the "Contact the Assessor" link on our page, or the "Contact Us" on a County page with the keyword Assessor.
How long does it take to get a response?
The Assessor's Public Assistance staff tries to respond within two business days or sooner, except at extremely busy times, when it could be longer.
My neighbor's house is the same model. Why are our values different?
There could be a number of reasons. To establish market value, the Assessor's Office gathers information from a number of sources, including previous sales from the area, zoning, topography, view, livable square footage, lot size and other component information, just to name a few. The valuation is determined by a computer analysis of the information gathered. Although properties may look alike on the surface there may be subtle differences. In mass appraisal those are not always obvious, even though they result in different values. Keep in mind that the Assessor must value over 1.5 million properties, and you have a right to appeal that value within 60 days of the date the Assessor mailed your Notice of Value, if you disagree with the value. The tax assessor reports that the appeals deadlines for this year is April 17, 2012.