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Arizona - Concerns Raised Over Proposed Legislation

by Rick Edwards, Phoenix, March 2015

 

As we reported last month, Arizona lawmakers are considering drastic changes to the state's assessment appeal cycle. House Bill 2253 does away with the current two-year property tax cycle and reverts to a system where property is valued and taxed in the same calendar year.

 

Critics point out that several provisions of HB 2253 are potentially harmful to taxpayers, including:

 

  • Appeal deadlines will be reduced from 60 to 30 days. This significantly shortens the timeframe taxpayers have to review their assessment, engage professional representation, and comply with administrative tasks in order to keep their assessment fair and equitable.

  • Rather than getting valuation notices a year in advance, property owners would get notices the current year. This substantive change would create a dead year with no notices being issued and no appeal opportunities for taxpayers in the off year. So if a property has declined in value, property owners would have to wait until the new appeals calendar is effective to file a protest and obtain tax relief.

  • Assessor level meetings and decisions would all occur in a 45-day window March 1 - April 30. This basically gives the assessor 3 1/2 months less time to review and resolve appeals. It would undermine the original intentions of the current appeal calendar, which was meant to help the assessor resolve the majority of appeals at the lowest level possible.

  • Reduces the timeline from 25 days to 20 days if further appeal is warranted to the county or state board of equalization. Requires county or state board of equalization hearings to be completed by July 15 rather than October 15. Moves up the deadline from December 15 to August 15 for taxpayers who choose to appeal directly to tax court. All of these changes shorten the amount of time taxpayers have to properly engage professionals to ensure their property valuation is correct.

  • New owners of property only have until August 15 rather than December 15 to appeal to tax court. This change leaves new owners who make purchases after August 15 with no timely appeal rights.

 

Opponents also charge that HB 2253 would be harmful to tax jurisdictions. Jurisdictions may not have a final tax roll before their tax rates must be set. This could cause budgetary problems when assessment errors and unresolved appeals are left to be dealt with after tax rates have already been determined.

 

Analysts urge taxpayers to carefully review the legislation and make their opinions known to their representatives at the Arizona Legislature.