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DC Considers Additional Assessment Reform

by Tom Branham, Washington D.C., April 2015

 

The Washington D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue made numerous changes to the valuation process with their “Appraisal Vision” Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) program. This process was undertaken in an effort to make assessments more accurate and reflective of current market conditions. However, controversy has haunted the changes with regard to erratic value changes, questionable legislative compliance, and accuracy. The debate continues over a new reform proposal.

 

2016 Notices

 

The 2016 Notices of Valuation were based on major changes in the way assessments are determined. The District automated its assessment models last year with:

 

  • New appraisal software

  • Updated Income & Expense Forms

  • A new standardized template for appeals

With the automation, assessments are now theoretically based on group averages rather than individual building data. Despite the technological changes, appeals are still needed to ensure that each property's specific strengths and weaknesses are addressed.

 

First Level Assessor Appeals are now underway and further appeals to the Real Property Tax Appeals Commission must be filed no later than 45 days from the date of the First Level decision or September 30, whichever occurs first.

 

More Changes Proposed

 

The District is considering a change that would require property owners to submit their Income & Expense forms before assessments are released.

 

Making owners submit their income and expense information before assessments come out March 1 would only give them January and February to complete the work. They now have until April 15. This timeline would likely be moved further into the year. There are concerns that more current information will likely result in higher assessments and higher taxes for many commercial properties.

 

For this change to take place, it requires approval from the D.C. City Council. At this point, no formal legislation has been filed.