December 4th, 20o9
Assessors Banned from Being Expets in Tax Court
Assessors and Appraisers have different education and regulatory agencies.
Your initial property tax value is determined by the Mass Appraisal method,
which is a statistical model that lumps similar properties together for
valuation. Appraising is based on a thorough analysis of a particular
property. When you file a property tax appeal the valuation is done by an
individual appraisal valuation.
A November 12th ruling by the Tax Court agreed that Assessors cannot be
considered "expert witnesses" by the Minnesota Property Tax Court. They can,
however, testify as lay witnesses.
The case was "The Shoppes at Woodbury". Attorney Larry Martin for the
property owner did some clever research and analysis and convinced the tax
court that statutes prohibit Assessors from acting as appraisers. Minnesota
Statute 270.41 prohibits a licensed assessor from preparing an appraisal
report for property in their jurisdiction.
And what impact did tossing out the testimony of the Washington County
Assessor have on the case result?
The original assessed value for tax year 2008 was $4,870,300.
The property owner's appraiser said the strip center was worth $3,465,000.
The Washington County Assessor said for tax court the value was $5,000,000.
The Tax Court affirmed the original value of $4,870,300.
I belive a more global impact of this is to increase the cost of the
Counties for going to tax court as they will now have to engage an outside