County Equalization Board will hear appeals filed by Aug. 19

Friday, July 19, 2013

CARROLL COUNTY -- Those who wish to appeal the assessed value on their property for tax purposes have until Aug. 19 to file an application with the county clerk.

Each year every county in the state convenes a Board of Equalization, whose purpose is two-fold. The first is to review and equalize overall county assessments done by the assessor on all properties, which include acreage lands, city and town lots, other real property and personal property.

Second, the board will hear assessment appeals by property owners who feel their assessments are unreasonable. To do this, the property owner must prove that the assessment is "manifestly excessive or clearly erroneous or confiscatory."

Equalizing property means to adjust the valuation of property to create a uniform tax rate. According to the state's website, the board also "has a duty to list and value any property subject to taxation that they know is not listed for value for that year."

The board also has the authority to classify personal property and zone and classify real property to get an average value. The board may not, however, change the value of crop land, pasture land, or timber land.

The board may make adjustments of individual assessments based on evidence presented. It can reclassify land upon proof of change in use of the land or upon proof that the land is not eligible for the classification it is in.

Property owners can bring comparable sales information to their hearings. According to the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department, "Only those valid sales that have been time adjusted to equal market value as of Jan. 1 of the reappraisal year my be used."

Property owners can appeal as assessment during any year, but any adjustment will be done only for the year in which they appeal, and the board will review all similarly situated properties to also either raise or lower them if the reasons apply to others as well.

The Equalization Board is made up five members, selected by various entities in the county at a meeting in May: two by the Quorum Court, one by the county judge, one by the school districts and one by the cities. At least one of the Quorum Court selectees must be a licensed real estate appraiser, unless one is unavailable; then a real estate broker; then a real estate salesperson; then a qualified elector of the county.

Terms are for three years, staggered. The board is independent of the county assessor's office, the Quorum Court and the county judge, but the county assessor may appeal decisions of the BOE.

Carroll County's five board members are Don McClung, selected by Judge Sam Barr; Jerl Swofford and Pamela Grudek, selected by the Quorum Court; Bryan Talley, seleced by the school districts; and Michael Tisevich, selected by the cities.The board meets starting Aug. 1, when Assessor Jo Ann Harris delivers completed assessments to County Clerk Jamie Correia, who will serve as the Equalization Board secretary.

Assessment appeals begin no later than the second Monday in August. Appeals fall under the Freedom of Information Act and are open to the public. The board may not go into executive session to discuss or decide an appeal.

Once the board has decided on an appeal, it will notify the property owner immediately if present or by writing 10 days after the hearing.

Property owners may appeal the BOE's decision by letter or petition to the county clerk for a hearing before the county court. Such appeals must be filed on or before the second Monday in October. If dissatisfied with the county court's decision, the property owner may then appeal to the circuit court.

Property owners do not have to attend the meeting. They may appoint an agent to attend for them, or may simply submit written documents as to the adjustment they are requesting. If the BOE summons them, they must appear, however. The board can also summon anyone to testify at a hearing and swear them in under oath.

The board is required to schedule hearings to accommodate property owners, and must hold av evening hearing each week for working taxpayers.

Taxpayers have the burden of proof for the adjustments they are seeking. According to the state website, "If he does not appear in person or by an agent and does not provide documentation then he has not met his burden of proof and he should be denied the relief sought."

The deadline is Aug. 19 to apply for a hearing. To set up an appointment, call the county clerk's office at 870-423-2022 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information on the entire process, visit the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department at www.arkansas.gov/acd.

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