The deadline to submit cases to the Board of Revision was April 1st, 2013. The Board will begin accepting applications for the 2013 tax year (payable in 2014) January 1, 2014.
PROPERTY VALUES AND THE BOARD OF REVISION
Auditor Establishes Value
The county auditor is responsible for establishing the value of each and every real estate parcel in the county, including homes, apartment buildings, commercial property, industrial sites, and vacant lots.
The appraised value is an estimate of the fair market value. Taxes are calculated by multiplying your tax rate by the assessed value, which is sometimes called the taxable value. The assessed value is 35% of the appraised value.
New buildings are valued at cost. The auditor conducts a reappraisal of each parcel of real estate every six years. During these sexenniel reappraisals, auditor’s employees work with an approved appraisal contractor in conducting a mass appraisal. During a mass appraisal, homes are visually observed but usually the appraiser does not enter your home.
Three years after the reappraisal, the auditor conducts a triennial update. The triennial update is based upon actual sales in each neighborhood over the previous three years.
In the reappraisal and the triennial update, the auditor estimates what your property would be worth on January 1st of that year. The January 1st date is called the tax lien date. Taxes are paid in the year after the tax lien date. For example, the auditor updates the property values in a process that takes place in the year 2009. The tax lien date for the updated value is January 1, 2009. Taxes based on the updated value are paid in 2010.
Appeal to the Board of Revision
If you believe that the auditor made an error or valued your propertyimproperly, you can appeal to your local county Board of Revision. To begin an appeal, you must file a Complaint Against the Valuation of Real Property on the proper form. The form is called DTE Form 1. You can obtain DTE Form 1 from the local Board of Revision office (in Lorain County, J Grant Keys Administration Building, 2nd floor, 226 Middle Avenue, Elyria, Ohio 44035) or you may download a copy here.
If you file a complaint, it is important to read the instructions and complete each section of the DTE 1 form. You must accurately list the owner of the property, the address, and parcel numbers. It must be signed and notarized.
The complaint can be filed after January 1st but must be filed by March 31st of the applicable year. You can only complain about the value of a parcel once during each three-year period between reappraisals and updates unless a specific exception applies. The exceptions are: if the property was sold in an arm’s length transaction; if there was a substantial improvement to the property; if the property lost value due to a casualty (damage from a sudden event such as a fire or tornado); or an occupancy change (on commercial property) of at least 15% that had a substantial economic impact on the property.
There is no filing fee.
Avoid Common Mistakes
Who can file and present the complaint?
If individuals own the property, the individual(s) should be listed as the owner. Individual owners may represent themselves before the Board of Revision but may choose to use the services of an attorney. Persons other than an owner who are not licensed attorneys, such as accountants, realtors, appraisers, bankers, and friends or relatives under power of attorney are not permitted to file complaints or present cases before the Board of Revision, although they may be called as witnesses if they have knowledge about the value of the property.
If a trust, a corporation, or a limited liability company owns the property, an attorney is needed if you want to present evidence and make legal arguments before the Board of Revision. There are limited exceptions in which a trustee, a member of a limited liability company, or a corporate office may prepare and file a complaint and state an opinion of value at the hearing. However, those entities may need an attorney to fully present their case at the Board of Revision.
The Hearing at the Board of Revision
After the complaint is filed, the Clerk of the Board of Revision will schedule a hearing date. The Clerk will send a notice in the mail to the address you provided on the complaint form (DTE1).
If you are asking to reduce the appraised value by $50,000 or more, your local school board will be notified. The local school board can object to your complaint by filing a counter-complaint. When the school board does object, the property owner and the school board will have a chance to be heard at the Board of Revision.
Most residential cases are scheduled for fifteen minutes but the Board of Revision tries to allow for additional time if the case is complex or if there are issues that require additional time to present.
The Board of Revision is created by Ohio law and is comprised of the County Treasurer, the County Auditor, and the President of the Board of County Commissioners. In most hearings, the elected officials who comprise the Board of Revision appoint one of their employees to represent them at the hearing. The Treasurer or the Treasurer’s representative usually chairs the hearings.
Two members of the Board are required for a quorum. Testimony is heard upon oath or affirmation. The meetings are recorded.
The Board of Revision employs a full-time Clerk and assistant clerk to receive the complaints, keep records, schedule hearings, and answer questions from property owners. The Clerk’s office is open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and is closed on weekends and holidays. The Board of Revision is located on the 2nd floor, J Grant Keys Administration Building, 226 Middle Avenue, Elyria, Ohio 44035. Tel. 440-329-5269.
The Board of Revision employees cannot give legal advice and cannot express an opinion on the merits of your case. Property owners should avoid discussing the facts of their case with the Board of Revision outside of the scheduled hearing.
Evidence and Burden of Proof
At the hearing, the property owner or complainant has the burden of proof to justify a change in value. By law, the auditor’s value is presumed to be correct. So, the complaining parties must provide evidence of their opinion of value.
A recent arms length sale of the property in question is the best evidence of value. Recent is generally considered to be in the last three years.
In cases where there is not a recent sale, the Ohio Administrative Code (§5703-25-07) provides for three methods of calculating value: 1) the market data approach, which compares recent sales of comparable properties; 2) the income approach, which capitalizes the net income attributable to the property; and 3) the cost approach, which calculates cost of the buildings and adjusts for depreciation, and adds to the value of the land. Professional appraisers are capable of applying the three methods and producing a written appraisal report.
Sales under compulsion or duress do not provide a reliable indication of value. Ohio law forbids the use of a forced auction such as a sheriff’s sale to determine value: “the price for which such real property would sell at auction or forced sale shall not be taken as the criterion of its price.” (ORC§5713.04). Similarly, transactions between friends, family, or business associates may not be considered “arms length” transactions that indicate value.
Recent sales of similar property in your neighborhood can be considered in determining value. However, the auditor’s appraised value of a similar property is not evidence of value of the property in question.
Documents such as a sales agreement; a recent appraisal, photographs, and estimates or expenses for needed repairs can be presented to support the complainant’s opinion of value.
Introducing your evidence
The Board of Revision will send you its decision in the mail, usually within a few weeks of the hearing.
If you disagree with the Board’s decision, you can appeal to the Court of Common Pleas or to the Board of Tax Appeals in Columbus. There are strict time limits for filing appeals. If you choose to appeal, you should do so without delay and follow the procedures described in ORC §5717.01. You may wish to have an attorney prepare your appeal.
J. Craig Snodgrass, Secretary
Daniel J. Talarek, Chairman
J. Grant Keys Administration Building
226 Middle Avenue
Elyria, Ohio 44035
To download DTE form 1 Complaint Against the Valuation of Real Property, click here.
Watch the video below for information on finding comparable properties.