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Property Tax Appeals Draining Cities and States

January 25, 2011

Property Tax Appeals Draining Cities and States
By Oregon Small Business Association

As Americans watched the real estate market decline 30.5 percent below the April 2006 peak, according to the 20-city S&P/Case-Shiller index , many homeowners decided to appeal their property tax rate. Property owners are appealing their taxes by submitting an appraisal and other records to local or state appeals boards or courts claiming that a tax assessment is too high. The increase in appeals has significantly increased city and state debt because decreased property tax revenue means more pressure on local governments to cut services.

Nationally, revenue from property taxes rose 7.8 percent to $90.5 billion. The money was distributed by sending $87.7 billion to local governments and $2.8 billion to the states.

Michigan currently faces an increase in tax appeals involving levies above $100,000, generally concerning commercial and industrial properties. The number of appeals dramatically rose to 14,236 this year from an annual average of about 6,000 during the past decade. The state also saw an increase in claims for residential properties at 28,558, the most in the 13 years the state has kept detailed records.

Rocky Steele, Nevada’s assistant director of assessment services reported that Las Vegas’ appeals increased 38 percent from the year before and more than three times the number of appeals in 2008. The increase in appeals caused the county’s taxable real estate value to fall from $263 billion to $184 billion in a single year. The reduction, which affected almost all of the hotel casinos and major property owners in the area, will cost the county about $514 million in lost taxes.

The Census Bureau reported that Oregon collected 60 percent more from its corporate net income tax than it did a year ago. Overall, the state collected nearly $1.9 billion during the third quarter. That number is comprised of $1.2 billion came from individual income taxes, $5.8 million came from property taxes and $113.9 million came from corporate income taxes.

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