Assessors Corner

Understanding Your Assessment

by the Lake County Assessor

 

DEB  CD AB DDABB  WEBLocal Board of Appeal and Equalization Meeting

Local Board of Appeal and Equalization meetings are held annually by townships and cities throughout Minnesota between April 1st and May 31st at either the office of the clerk or a designated location. They are provided in an attempt to address the grievances of property owners who choose to appeal their current assessment year's valuation and/or classification. These forums are conducted fairly and objectively according to the laws of the state. They play a vital role in the appeals process and contribute to the attainment and preservation of assessment equalization.

What types of notification do property owners receive regarding the time, date, and location of the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization meeting?


Each year, the county assessor mails notices of assessment to all property owners during the months of March, April, and May. These state approved, computer-generated forms are sent at least ten days prior to the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization meeting. They include assessment data, information regarding the appeals process, as well as the time, date, and location of the meeting. Additionally, the township and city clerks must publish in a local newspaper and post on a public announcement board a notice of the meeting at least ten days prior to the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization meeting.

Who are the people that comprise the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization?

Members of the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization are the board of supervisors of a township or the council or governing body of a city, except when a township or city has transferred its duties to the county, the governing body of a city has appointed a Special Board of Appeal and Equalization, or the charter of a city provides for a board of equalization. These representatives are voting members of the local board, and a majority of them must be present at the meeting in order to satisfy the quorum requirement and to conduct business. The township or city clerks are generally in attendance, too. They are non-voting members charged with the task of monitoring and ensuring that the duty of the local board is performed.

Is the assessor required to attend the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization meeting?

Yes, the assessor is required by law to attend the meeting and to take part in the proceedings. The assessor must provide assessment information, answer questions, support valuations and classifications through the presentation of sales data and factual information, explain the application of pertinent property tax laws and programs, and recommend changes if applicable. Although the assessor is a participant at the meeting, this person is not considered a board member and cannot vote in matters requiring action. In short, the assessor's role is to share knowledge about properties and the area real estate market with property owners and to assist the local board in its deliberations.

What is the duty of the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization?

The local board's major duty is to determine whether or not all taxable property in the township or city has been properly valued and classified by the assessor for taxation purposes. The board must hear all complaints and objections that are made in person, by letter, or through a representative of the owner. Members of the board must review the assessments in detail and take action as they deem fair and appropriate.

Does the burden of contesting a property assessment rest with the property owner?

In Minnesota, the assumption is that the assessor has properly valued and classified all property in the township or city. It is the property owner's responsibility to present market and/or factual evidence to the local board in order to disprove the assessment and support a value or classification that is different than that opined by the assessor.

What actions can be taken by the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization?

The Local Board of Appeal and Equalization has the authority to take action on certain intra-jurisdictional matters. First, it may reduce, increase, or do nothing to the value of a property if the facts show that the property is assessed higher, lower, or similarly to other like properties in the area. Second, if the local board finds that any real or personal property has not been added to the assessment rolls, it must instruct the assessor to value and classify the property accordingly for the current year's assessment. Third, should the local board find cases when the value of a building or other improvement was not included in the estimated market value of a property, it must notify the owner regarding the undervaluation and have the assessor add value for the unnoticed building or improvement. Last of all, the local board may also correct the property's tax classification if the property was determined to be improperly classified based on its current use or most probable, highest and best use.

Are there any rules that restrict or limit the scope of authority assigned to the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization?

Yes, there are several conditions cited in law that restrict or limit the local board's scope of authority. First, it cannot reopen prior year assessments or address taxes which are due and payable. The local board can only deal with the current year's assessment. Second, it cannot increase or decrease by percentage all of the assessments in the township or city for a specific class of property. Third, the local board does not have the authority to reduce the aggregate assessment made by the assessor by more than one percent or none of the value adjustments made will be allowed. Fourth, it cannot approve or deny a request for exemption from property taxation; nor can it remove property from the assessment rolls. Last of all, the local board cannot act on an appeal if a property owner has not allowed the assessor to review the property and make an interior inspection of any building or improvement.

Estimated Market Values and Taxable Market Values

Minnesota law directs the Assessor to value properties at their market value.  This value is sometimes referred to as Estimated Market Value or EMV.  The EMV may be reduced by certain exclusions or deferrals to result in a Taxable Market Value.  This is the value that your property taxes are actually based on, after all exclusions and deferrals and any other adjustments have been applied.