I received my "Property Tax Listing Notice." Now what do I do?

It's January, so it is likely that you have received a "listing notice" from the tax office if you own real property or business personal property. So, you might reasonably ask: "Now what do I do?"

Lisiting refers to the requirement that property owners file a report every year with the tax office showing the property owned by them as of the listing date of January 1. The type of information required and the manner in which the listing is done varies depending on whether you are dealing with real property or business personal property.

With respect to real property [buildings and land], everyone was required years ago to file a listing every year reporting any real property owned. Many years ago, however, the legislature required the counties to go to a permanent listing sytem. With this system in place, owners of real property are only required to file a listing for the real property they own if they have changed the real property in the last calendar year. 

For example, if you bought a house many years ago, you have been receiving tax bills and paying the taxes ever since. You received a listing form for your house in January 2016. You were not obligated to file the listing form because you made no improvements to the house during calendar year 2015. However, let's assume you build a garage in calendar year 2016. In that event, when you receive your listing form in January, 2017, you are supposed to file the lisiting form reflecting the cost of the new garage. Whether the improvements reported change the value of your house, and how much, depend on the tax office's assessment of the extent to which the improvements change the fair market value of the house. In other words, spending $20,000 on the garage may increase the tax value of your house more than $20,000, or less than $20,000. It is a question of how much the market values your improvement.

With respect to business personal property [machinery and equipment; furniture and fixtures; computers; supplies; etc.], the system is very different. You are required to list your business personal property every January without exception, regardless of whether you have added to or subtracted from your holdings in the last calendar year. Counties generally value business personal property by taking original cost and trending it up for inflation and depreciating it down for obselescence in accordance with certain tables produced by the Department of Revenue. So, the business personal property listing form requires you to list your business personal property at original cost, broken down by certain asset types and years of acquisition. The tax office takes this information, runs a computation, and sends you a bill that shows the value of this property in their opinion.

Failure to file the listing form on a timely basis—when one is required—can result in the imposition of a 10% late listing penalty. So, be attentive to the end of January deadline and make sure that the listing form is accurately and fully completed, and timely filed for all your business personal property and for your real property, if required.

About the Author

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John A. Cocklereece, Jr.

John Cocklereece concentrates his practice on property tax appeals, business law, tax controversies, and estate planning and administration.
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