As KPVI has reported, many Bannock County residents saw a significant increase in their property assessments this year, and just under 3,000 appeal forms have been turned in to the Assessor's Office.
Bannock County officials say past assessors have undervalued property, and that's one reason why so many are seeing an increase this year.
KPVI has obtained the average assessed values in Bannock County from 2008 through 2018 from the Idaho State Tax commission.
The tax commission performs ratio studies every year to determine whether county assessors are in compliance with the Tax Commission's rules. The Tax Commission says there can be no more than a 10% margin of error in either direction between average assessed value and average sales price, also known as market value.
“We have this responsibility to make sure that everything’s at market value,” says George Brown, the Property Tax Administrator for the Idaho State Tax Commission.
“And the reason why is because if it’s not, if you have property assessments that aren’t at market value, especially whole categories of property, then the other categories end up paying more taxes than they should.”
Brown says each year, assessors get the ratio studies from the previous year from the State Tax Commission to see what adjustments have to be made in order to get, or stay in, compliance.
According to the Tax Commission numbers, since 2008, Bannock County failed once to meet compliance in the improved residential property category. That was last year.
Since 2008, the county has failed three times in the improved commercial property category: in 2015, 2017 and last year.
Bannock County isn’t the only one that had trouble last year. According to Brown, 25 categories in 19 counties were out of compliance.
“But we’re not looking at individual properties,” says Brown.
“So within that, there may be properties that are significantly undervalued or overvalued, we don’t know that. That’s really the assessor’s job. We just look at this average”
Bannock County has also cited an up-tick in market value as a reason for the property increases. Brown says this year saw increases in values not seen since before 2008.
“A lot of counties had value increases like that,” says Brown. “15-20%, really, I don’t even blink an eye at that.”
The Tax Commission data shows the average sales price for an improved residential property increased from $155,484 in 2017 to $167,300 last year.
But the average improved residential property assessment last year was only $144,492. This was under Bannock County's previous assessor Jared Stein.
On the contrary, the average sales price for improved commercial property went down from $256,595 in 2017 to $219,158 last year.
The average improved commercial property assessment last year was only $168,343, also under Assessor Stein.
Bannock County Officials say they feared if they continued this trend, the state would have to take over.
“If they’re not compliant and continue to remain not compliant once they get out of their own boards of equalization,” says Brown, “then our board of equalization, the State Board of Equalization, can order an adjustment of a category in a county.”