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Property Tax Terms

Ad valorem tax—In reference to property, a tax based upon the value of the property.

Assessor—(asessor, assesor, asesor) A person who assesses or calculates or estimates the value of something.

Assessed value—The dollar amount placed on taxable property, both real (by parcel) and personal (by owner), by the assessor for the purpose of taxation.

Assessing—The act of valuing a property for the purpose of establishing a tax base.

Assessment—See Assessed value.

Assessment district—An assessor’s jurisdiction; it may or may not be an entire tax district. Any subdivision of territory whether whole or part of a municipality where a separate assessment of taxable property is made. Such districts may be referred to as taxing districts, administrative districts, or special purpose districts. (See s. 70.08, Stats.)

Assessment level—The ratio of the assessed value to the market value of all taxable property within a district (town, village, or city). For example if the assessed value of all the taxable property in Town “A” is $2,700,000 and the market value of all taxable property in Town “A” is $3,000,000 then the “assessment level” is said to be 90%.

Assessment ratio—The ratio of the assessed value to the market value of an individual parcel.
If a parcel would sell for $50,000 and is assessed for $45,500 it is said to have a “ratio” of 90%.
Assessment Ratio = Assessed Value = $45,000 = 90% Market Value $50,000

Assessment roll—The official listing of all properties within a given municipality (Town, Village, City) by ownership, description, and location showing the corresponding assessed values for each. The completed assessment roll is an official listing which contains owners and legal descriptions of all real estate parcels and items of personal property within a taxation district, acreages of most parcels, the statutory classification and assessed value, according to land and improvements, of general taxable parcels.

Assessment year—The period of time during which the assessment of all properties within a given assessment district must be completed; the period between tax lien dates.

Assessor—The administrator charged with the assessment of property for ad valorem taxes; the
precise duties differ from state to state depending upon state statutes.

Assessor’s Final Report—A report completed and filed by the assessor with the Supervisor of Equalization, upon the completion of the assessment roll and prior to Board of Review, the report shows amounts and reasons for changes between the prior year’s assessed values and the current year’s assessed values of a taxation district.

Board of Review—A quasi-judicial board charged with the responsibility of raising or lowering assessments proven incorrect as well as correcting any errors in the assessment roll. The Board of Review consists of a clerk and selected municipal officers (other than the assessor) or citizens.
It hears all objections to the amount or valuation of property if objections are made in writing and filed with its clerk prior to adjournment of public hearings. The Board examines the assessment roll or rolls and corrects all apparent errors in description or computation, adds all omitted property to the assessment roll and determines whether an assessor’s valuation is correct from evidence brought before it. The Board cannot determine exempt or taxable status of property.

CDU rating—A composite rating of the overall Condition, Desirability and Usefulness of a structure as developed by the Cole-Layer-Trumble Company and it is used nationally as a simple, direct and uniform method of estimating accrued depreciation.

Certified Assessment Evaluator—A professional designation (CAE) conferred by the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) upon qualifying individuals.

Certified property tax—An ad valorem property tax where the assessment ratio varies for different property classes. This differs from state to state depending upon state statutes.

Doomage assessment—The process of arriving at an assessment from the best information available when the assessor is denied the opportunity to physically inspect a property; making an assessment without actually viewing the property or receiving and/or accepting the taxpayer’s declaration of personal property.

Equalized value—The estimated value of all taxable real and personal property in each taxation district, by class, as of January 1 and certified by the Department of Revenue on August 15 of each year. The value represents market value (most probable selling price), except for agricultural property, which is based on its use value (ability to general agricultural income).

Equated value—The dollar amount placed on individual parcels of manufacturing property in a taxation district for tax collection purposes, calculated by multiplying the market value of the property as determined by the Department of Revenue times the assessment level of all other property within the taxation district.

Equity—In reference to property taxes, a condition where he tax load is distributed fairly or equitably; opposite of inequity that refers to a condition characterized by an unfair or unequitable distribution of the tax burden. Inequity is a natural product of changing economic conditions that can only be effectively cured by periodical revaluation programs. In reference to value, it is the value of the property remaining after deducting all liens and charges against it.

Exempt property—See tax exemption.

Expert help—Is employed when the governing body of a municipality not subject to assessment by a county assessor determines it is in the public interest to appoint such help to aid in making the assessments in order that they may be equitably made and in compliance with the law. The expert help may be a private firm or person, or an employee of the Department of Revenue.

Field crew—The total staff assigned to a specific appraisal project, including data collectors, reviewers, staff appraisers, clerical and administrative supporting personnel.

Forest croplands—Land taxes at a set amount per acre, must contain at least 40 or more acres, is more suitable for the growing of timber than for other purposes, assessed by the local assessor, subject to review under Chapter 70 and is open to the public for hunting and fishing.

Fractional assessment—When the assessment is made at some percentage of the full value as determined by policy by the government.
Full value—The same as equalized value, however is often used when referring to the value of school and special districts.

General property tax—The following elements must be present: 1) a dollar amount of levy; 2) total assessed values of individual properties (parcels of real property/personal property items); and 3) uniform rate of taxation within the same common area is to be applied to all taxable real and personal property within that area.

Improvement—An addition to raw land intended to increase the value. Examples include buildings, structures, and attachments or annexations to land that are intended to remain so attached or annexed, such as sidewalks, trees, drives, tunnels, drains, and sewers.

Inequity—See equity.

Land value maps—A map used in conjunction with mass appraising, generally drawn to small scale and showing comparative unit land values, on a block to block basis.

Level of assessment—The (average) percentage of full value at which property is locally assessed:
Aggregate assessment = 252,612,900 = .90 (90 percent)
Aggregate full value 280,681,000

Levy—The amount of tax imposed by a governmental unit.

Lien—A charge against property whereby the property is made the security for the payment of a debt.

Mass appraisal—The process of valuing a universe of properties, as of a specified date, utilizing standard
methodology, using common data and allowing for statistical testing.

Mass appraisal model—A mathematical formula or equation reflecting how supply and demand factors interact on a market level.

Mill rate—A mill is one-thousandth of one dollar. Tax rates are often expressed in mills per dollar.
Example: Tax = $3,000 Taxable assessed value = $100,000
Mill rate = 3,000/100,000 = 0.03 of a dollar per dollar of taxable assessed value

Notice of Changed Assessment—A written notification to a property owner of the assessed value of certain properties described therein; mandated by law to be given to each property owner following a change in value of the property.

Overassessed—A condition wherein a property is assessed proportionately higher than comparable properties.

Parcel identification number (PIN)—An identification number, assigned to a parcel of land to uniquely identify that parcel from any other parcel within a given taxing jurisdiction.

Preferential assessment—An assessing system providing preferential treatment in the form of reduced rates to a particular class of property, such as a system providing for farm properties to be assessed in accordance to their value in use as opposed to their value in the open market.
Property class—A division of like properties generally defined by statutes and generally based upon their present use. The basis for establishing assessment ratios in a classified property assessment system.

Property record card—A document specially designated to record and process specified property data; may serve as a source document, a processing form; and/or a permanent property record.

Reassessment—The revaluation of all properties within a given jurisdiction for the purpose of establishing a new tax base.

When a written complaint is made to the Department of Revenue by the owners of 5% or more of the assessed valuation of the property within a municipality stating that the assessment of property in the municipality is not in substantial compliance with the law and that the interest of the public would be promoted by a reassessment, the department can order such actual doing over of the assessment roll (reassessment) of all or part of the taxable property in municipality.

Revaluation—Placing new values on all taxable property for the purpose of a new assessment. The previous year’s assessment roll is not affected. The term is often used in conjunction with s. 70.055, Stats., where expert help can be hired to work with the assessor in revaluing the district.

Sales ratio study—A statistical analysis of the distribution of assessment or appraisal-to-sale ratios of a sample of recent sales made for the purpose of drawing inferences regarding the entire population of parcels from which the sample was abstracted.

Tax bill—An itemized statement showing the amount of taxes owed for certain property described therein and forwardable to the party or parties legally liable for payment thereof.

Tax exemption—Either total or partial freedom from taxation granted by specific state statute.

Tax levy—In reference to property taxes, the total revenue realized by the tax.

Tax mapping—The creation of accurate representations of property boundary lines at appropriate scales to provide a graphic inventory of parcels for use in accounting, appraising and assessing. Such maps show dimensions and the relative size and location of each tract with respect to other tracts. Also known as assessment maps and cadastral maps.

Tax rate—The rate generally expressed in dollars per hundred or dollars per thousand (mills) applied against the tax base (assessed value) to compute the amount of taxes. The tax rate is derived by dividing the total amount of the tax levy by the total assessed value of the taxing district.

Tax roll—The official list showing the amount of taxes, special assessments, and charges levied against each parcel and item of personal property in the municipality.

Tax sale—The sale of a taxpayer’s property to collect delinquent taxes from the proceeds of the sale when the taxpayer has failed to redeem it within the statutory period.

Taxation—The right of government to tax property to support the government.

Taxation district—A political subdivision a governmental unit has authority to levy a tax. A city, village or town or, if a city or village lies in more than one county, that portion of the city or village which lies within a county.

Taxing jurisdiction—Any entity authorized by law to levy taxes on general property located within its boundaries.

Uniformity—As applied to assessing, a condition wherein all properties are assessed at the same ratio to market value, or other standard of value depending upon the particular assessing practices followed.

Woodland tax lands—Land taxes at a set amount per acre, containing at least 10 acres but less than the acreage required for forest croplands, located outside villages and cities, void of an improvement having assessed value in itself and more suitable for the growing of timber than for other purposes.