Board of equalization

What is a board of equalization?

A board of equalization is a government body or agency responsible for hearing appeals from local citizens concerning property taxes. It ensures the implementation of tax regulations, assessments and collections.

Deeper definition

Each county is assigned a board of equalization. This elected body provides tax assessment services in the areas of property taxes, sales and use taxes, special taxes and tax appellate programs:

  • Property taxes: The board assesses the taxable value of property, which subsequently determines the amount of taxes paid by the owner. Board members also review cases of appeal made by local citizens.
  • Sales and use taxes: The board administers local, district, and state tax programs, as well as business taxes and fees.
  • Special taxes: The board deals with tax and fees programs of various products and services such as alcohol, tobacco, fire prevention, hazardous waste and diesel fuel.
  • Tax appellate programs: The board listens and reviews appeal cases concerning property, sales and use, and special taxes. It also assists residents in filing timely appeals.

Although the agency serves multiple purposes, local residents commonly appeal to the board if they disagree with the taxable value of property by an assessor. Property owners have the option of appealing their own cases or employing an attorney. To ensure impartiality, board members cannot be appointed by an assessor.

To file an appeal, property owners need to submit an assessment appeal application provided by the local county board. Upon approval, petitioners are required to present relevant evidence at a hearing and await a decision. A board of equalization can decide to increase, decrease or leave the value of the property in question as is based on the evidence presented.

Board of equalization example

If you are a property owner and disagree with the value assigned to your property by an assessor, contact the local board of equalization and submit an application. You should be given a hearing date to present your case. The board typically considers the selling price of other similar properties sold in the area as acceptable evidence. You and the assessor will present evidence, after which board members will ask questions. The hearing is then adjourned until a decision is made and announced at the closing.

Thinking of filing an appeal? Find out how three homeowners contested tax bills and won.

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