As insurance companies continue to deal with a distressed economy marked by issues related in one way or another to decreased real estate values, it is easy to overlook the fact that the value of properties owned by your company have also likely declined without a corresponding decrease in real estate tax liability. Bricker & Eckler LLP counsels and represents businesses—including insurance companies and agencies—that seek to reduce property tax burdens.

In Ohio, property owners can petition county Boards of Revision to reduce the tax value of their properties using “Complaints Against the Valuation of Real Property” (called “valuation complaints”) prepared and filed on their behalf. Valuation complaints to reduce Tax Year 2008 real estate taxes (which are payable in 2009) must be filed by March 31, 2009.

After a valuation complaint is filed, the Board of Revision conducts a hearing in which the taxpayer and counsel appear and present appropriate justification and support for a reduction in the taxable value of the properties in question. The board of education of the school district where the property is located also has a right to appear and argue against the proposed reduction. Following such a hearing, the Board of Revision will issue a decision regarding the property’s taxable value which is subject to appeal if desired.

If successful, real estate taxes for the current tax year (payable during the following calendar year) will be reduced as appropriate to reflect the change in valuation. Additionally, if the owner has already paid taxes in 2009 for some or all of its 2008 tax bill, those tax payments may be remitted back to the taxpayer to the extent that they exceed the amount of taxes that would have been otherwise due based on the revised property value.

Please remember that the rapidly-approaching deadline for filing valuation complaints this year is March 31, 2009.