No, we don’t mean time for the groundhog to finally stick his head up; it’s time to take a good look at the value the assessor is putting on your property, and consider whether it is correct. Property taxes are necessary, of course, for roads and schools and all of the other services your property receives, but you should take some time to make sure that you are not paying more than your fair share of these taxes.
Wisconsin’s State Constitution has a provision requiring that all real estate be taxed “uniformly.” Regular real estate and personal property is taxed by the local municipality. Property which is used for manufacturing purposes, is taxed by the State of Wisconsin, in an effort to make sure that manufacturing property throughout the State is taxed in the same manner. Land which is in agricultural use enjoys a separate “use value assessment” system, which not only allows a lower assessment for land in that use, but also requires a per-acre penalty if that land is removed from the ag use, as defined by those statutes.
Of course, each of those taxing categories is controlled by pages of regulations containing definitions and limitations which are too complicated to insert into this article. Be aware that if you bought a parcel during calendar year 2013, your tax assessment may rise this year to the sale price named on the Transfer Tax Return filed with that deed, and you will receive a notice sometime this Spring of that increased assessment. The notice will tell you the procedure for contesting that new higher assessment, and the time period, usually very short, during which you must file an appeal or lose the opportunity for another year. However, if your tax assessment should have been reduced, and was not, you might not receive a notice at all, which means you must affirmatively seek out the date for filing the tax challenge, and the forms needed to preserve the right to challenge. You must affirmatively notify the assessor if you demolished a building, or lost a tenant, suffered a casualty loss, signed new leases for lower rents or had to offer rent concessions to renew a lease, or moved a parcel of land into or out of ag use, if you want to be sure the 2014 tax assessment is properly calculated for the actual use of the land and actual income from it. We can help you evaluate behind the scenes, if the property is accurately assessed, and, if it is not, file and defend a claim for you. We often charge a nominal amount for the investigation, and then take the tax challenge on a contingency basis, so you are only billed if we secure a tax savings for you.