The Assessor is charged with several administrative and statutory duties; however, the primary duty and responsibility is to cause to be assessed all real property within their jurisdiction except that which is otherwise provided by law. This would include residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural classes of property. Real property is revalued every two years. The effective date of the assessment is January First of the current year. The assessor determines a full or partial value of new construction, or improvements depending upon the state of completion as of January First.
The Assessor does not:
The Assessor is concerned with value, not taxes. Taxing
jurisdictions such as schools, cities, and townships, adopt
budgets after public hearings. This determines the tax
levy, which is the rate of taxation required to raise the money
budgeted. The taxes you pay are proportionate to the value
of your property compared to the total value of the taxing district
in which your property is located.
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Assessors are appointed to their position by a Conference
Board consisting of the members of the Board of Supervisors,
the Mayors of all incorporated cities and a member from each
school district within the jurisdiction. A city with a
population of ten thousand or more may elect to have their own
assessor. Assessors are required, by statute, to pass
a state examination and complete a Continuing Education Program
consisting of 150 hours of formal classroom instruction with
90 hours tested and a passing grade of 70% attained. The
latter requirement must be met in order for the assessor to
be reappointed to the position every six years. The Deputy
Assessor also must pass a state examination as well as successfully
complete 90 hours of classroom instruction of which at least
60 hours are tested. The Conference Board approves the
assessor's budget and after a public hearing acts on adoption
of same. The assessor is limited, by statute, depending
upon the value of the jurisdiction, to a levy limitation for
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Market value of a property is an estimate of the price
that it would sell for on the open market on January First of
the year of assessment. This is sometimes referred to
as the "arms length transaction" or "willing
buyer/willing seller" concept.
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To estimate the market value of your property, the
Assessor generally uses three approaches. The first approach
is to find properties that are comparable to yours which have
sold recently. Local conditions peculiar to your property
are taken into consideration. The assessor also uses sales
ratio studies to determine the general level of assessment in
a community, in order to adjust for local conditions.
This method generally referred to is the MARKET APPROACH and
usually considered the most important in determining the value
of residential property. The second approach is the COST
APPROACH and is an estimate of how many dollars at current labor
and material prices it would take to replace your property with
one similar to it. In the event improvement is not new
appropriate amounts for depreciation and obsolescence would
be deducted from replacement value. Value of the land
then would be added to arrive to the total estimate of value.
The INCOME APPROACH is the third method used if your property
produces income such as an apartment or office building.
In that case, your property could be valued according to its
ability to produce income under prudent management; in other
words, what another investor would give for a property in order
to gain its income. The income approach is the most complex
of the three approaches because of the research, information
and analysis necessary for an accurate estimate of value.
This method requires thorough knowledge of local and national
financial conditions, as well as any developmental trends in
the area of the subject property being appraised since errors
or inaccurate information can seriously affect the final estimate
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State law requires that all real property be reassessed
every two years. The current law requires the reassessment
to occur in odd numbered years. Changes in market value
as indicated by research, sales ratio studies and analysis of
local conditions as well as economic trends both in and outside
the construction industry are used in determining your assessment.
If you disagree with the assessor's estimate of value, please consider these two questions before proceeding, as outlined below:
There are a number of different taxing districts in
a jurisdiction, each with a different levy. Each year
the County Auditor determines for that district a levy that
will yield enough money to pay for schools, police and fire
protection, road maintenance and other services budgeted for
in that area. The tax levy is applied to each $1,000 of
a property's taxable value. The value determined by the
assessor is the assessed value and is the value indicated on
the assessment roll. The taxable value is the value determined
by the auditor after application of state-ordered "rollback"
percentages for the various classes of property and is the value
indicated on the tax statement. When comparing the value
of your property with other properties always compare with the
value on the assessment roll or the assessor's property record
cards and not the value indicated on the tax
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Iowa law provides for a number of exemptions and credits, including
Homestead Credit and Military Exemption. It is the property
owner's responsibility to apply for these as provided by law.
If the property you were occupying as a homestead is sold, or
if you cease to use the property as a homestead you are required
to report this to the assessor in whose jurisdiction the property
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January 1 - Effective date of current assessment.
April 16 through May 5 inclusive - Protest of assessment period for filing with the local Board of Review.
May 1 through adjournment - Board of Review meets each year.
October 16 through October 25 inclusive - Protest period for filing with Board of Review on those properties affected by changes in value as a result of the Director of Revenue Equalization Orders (odd numbered years).
January 1 through December 31 - Period for filing for Homestead Credit and Military Exemption. One time filing is provided, by statute, unless the property owner is (1) filing for Military or Homestead Credit the first time; (2) has purchased a new or used home and is occupying the property as a homestead as of July 1st; or (3) owner was using as a homestead but did not previously file.
If the home qualifies and the property owner files on or before July 1, the exemption will go into effect for the current assessment year. If the property owner files after July 1, the exemption will go into effect the year following the sign up.
Filing is required on the following, if provisions have been made for exemptions as required:
On values determined as of January First, one does not start
to pay taxes until eighteen months later. The "roll
back" is the percentage of actual value that is determined
by the Director of Revenue each year on the several classes
of property where the total value increase STATEWIDE,
exceeds four percent for each class of property. The percentage
so determined by the Director of Revenue are certified to and
applied by the local county auditor to all property in each
class effected throughout the State. Percentages determined
by the Director of Revenue are the same for all the assessing
jurisdictions in the State.
Increases in assessed value of individual parcels of property as determined by the assessor, may exceed four percent within a jurisdiction. Agricultural property, except agricultural dwellings, are assessed on the basis of productivity and net earning capacity using a five-year crop average and capitalized at the rate set by the Legislature. The rate is currently seven percent. Tentative and final equalization orders are issued by the Director of Revenue in odd numbered years on or about August 15th, and October 1st respectively. The orders are sent to the various county auditors who apply them to the classes of property affected, if any.
Assessors and members of the Board of Review are appointed to their terms of office.
Assessors, in addition to completing the required 150 hours of Continuing Education, must be approved by a majority vote of the Conference Board in order to be reappointed.
If you desire further information, questions concerning PROPERTY VALUES or other information relating thereto should be addressed to the assessor's office in the respective jurisdiction and not the Board of Supervisors or Treasurer.
The assessors of Iowa hope that the information contained herein will be of value to the property owner and has clarified some of these problems and issues relating to assessment and the applicable laws.
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This information was prepared by the Public Relations Committee of the Iowa State Association of Assessors.