Property taxes are primarily based on assessed value as determined by the County Assessor. If you disagree with the value established by the Assessor, you can appeal to the Department of Real Estate Assessments and the Board of Equalization.
An assessment appeal is not a complaint about higher taxes. You must attempt to prove that your property’s market value is either inaccurate or unfair. Instructions and deadline dates for appeals are on the assessment notice you receive after Jan. 1.
You may appeal based on the following:
- The Department of Real Estate Assessments has incorrect data on items that affect value – i.e. number of baths, error in square footage
- You can prove that during the analysis period (July 1– August 31), similar properties sold for less than the estimated market value of your property. Use the Property Data Search feature to compare assessments and view sales.
- You can prove that while the estimated market value of your property is valid, it was not appraised in a manner equitable with similar properties during the analysis period.
There are three steps in the Appeal Process
- Appeal to the Department of Real Estate Assessments
- Appeal to the Board of Equalization
- File suit in the Circuit Court
First Appeal: Department of Real Estate Assessments
Your first step is to contact the Department of Real Estate Assessments appraiser assigned to your neighborhood. Call 703-228-3920 for an informal session to find out how the assessment was determined.
If, after speaking with the appraiser, you still think the assessment is incorrect, you can submit a formal appeal form application.
An appraiser will contact you to schedule an inspection of your property. During the inspection, you may point out any information you believe should be factored into the value. You will receive a written notification of the decision by mail.
Second Appeal: Board of Equalization
If you disagree with the value established by the appraiser, your next appeal is to the Board of Equalization, which conducts hearings on assessment disputes. After weighing evidence submitted by both the property owner and the Department of Real Estate Assessments, the Board must make a fair, impartial decision.
State law puts the burden of proof on the property owner to show that the assessment is incorrect. You must have strong enough evidence to show that the Assessor’s value is incorrect. Stating that your property taxes are too high is not relevant testimony.
- The best way to judge the assessment of your property is to compare it to recent sales and and assessments of surrounding properties. Since all real estate assessments are a matter of public record, you can find the assessment of any property and a list of recent sales in the neighborhood using the Property Data Search site.
- Establish what you think your property is worth by comparing recorded arm length transaction sales (those sales where the buyers and sellers have no relationship to each other) of similar properties between July 1 – August 31 of the year in question.
- Show that similar properties have inequitable values.
- Submit all supporting evidence to the board by April 15, 2014.
- Appeal Application Forms
Third Appeal: Circuit Court
If you do not agree with the decision from the Board of Equalization, your final step is to file suit in Circuit Court. This will usually involve hiring an attorney to represent you. For more information, contact:
Arlington County Circuit Court
1425 North Courthouse Road
Arlington, VA 22201