The Taxman Cometh

All along the Wasatch Back, residents and visitors enjoy many public amenities, from top-notch schools, to state-of-the-art recreation facilities and well-maintained roads.

But those amenities come at a cost, and for property owners in Summit and Wasatch counties, a preview of that bill arrives at the end of every summer in the form of their property tax notice.

Photo Credit: Basin Recreation

Compared to states with the highest property taxes, including New Jersey, Illinois and New Hampshire, Utah’s property taxes are relatively low, though they vary depending on whether a property is a primary or secondary residence. That’s when it’s important to pay attention to the notice to ensure your property is categorized properly.

Below, you’ll find two property tax notices from Summit County: One for a primary residence and one for a secondary residence. Secondary residences are taxed at the full assessed value, while primary residences are taxed at 55% of assessed value.

Photo Credit: Summit County Assessor’s Office
Photo Credit: Summit County Assessor’s Office

There are two situations that allow your property to be categorized as a primary residence: You live in the property year-round, or you have rented your property to a single tenant year-round. Applications for primary residence are due by May 1st of each year, however, applications received after that date will be processed by your county’s board of equalization as an appeal. Applications received after the primary tax appeal deadline of Nov. 30 will be considered in the next calendar year. The window for appealing your primary residence status following receipt of your tax notice is Aug. 1 – Sept. 15. Visit the Summit County Assessor site by clicking here, or the Wasatch County Assessor site here, to learn more about residency exemptions. Depending on the value of your property, you could save thousands of dollars.

Another way to save money on property taxes is to appeal your assessed value. The assessed value of your property is determined by the assessor’s office based on the prevailing local real estate market conditions. If the local real estate market is strong – as it is in Summit and Wasatch Counties – then the assessed value of homes will increase accordingly.

If you think the amount on your notice is unreasonable, I can work with you to help determine whether the assessed value is fair. According to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, an estimated 30-60% of properties are over assessed, yet fewer than 5% of homeowners appeal their assessment. To do so, I recommend going through the following steps:

Ensure the Property Description is Accurate

Is the description showing too many bathrooms, or too much square footage? These types of errors can be corrected by a reappraisal of the property, or you could submit architectural drawings to the assessor’s office. If you don’t personally provide the most accurate information possible, the office won’t have the data necessary to make a fully-informed assessment.

Chat with Your Neighbors

Misery loves company, and if your bill seems high, your neighbors are likely having the same thoughts and concerns. If you’re part of a homeowner’s association (HOA), send a note to the HOA officers to see if an emergency meeting prior to the appeal deadline is warranted to help create a united front.

Hire an Appraiser

I have a list of appraisers I can recommend to you – ones I trust to provide an experienced and accurate appraisal. Or, if you’ve recently purchased your property and have a current appraisal that falls well below the county’s version, it’s likely the professional appraisal provided at the time of your transaction will be considered as valid.

Compare With “Like” Properties

I can help provide comparable properties to determine if your assessment is reasonable.

Prepare Your Appeal

You must file your appeal within 45 days of receiving your property tax notice. For Summit County, this can be accomplished by either submitting an electronic Board of Equalization Appeal Form via the county’s online portal, or downloading a PDF version to fill out and send to the Summit County Board of Equalization.

The Wasatch County primary residence exemption form can be found by clicking here.

You must include a copy of your property tax notice, along with any evidence, such as an appraisal, sales comparable to your property or MLS – Multiple Listing Services – data to support your appeal. Contact me if you would like help with this.

Decisions depend on the availability and workload of Board of Equalization Appeal Officers, and could take several weeks. Once a decision is reached, you can expect to receive a “Notice of Determination.” If your appeal is denied, you cannot appeal your final property tax bill when it is received in November.

To contact the Summit County Assessor’s Office, call 435-336-3257, or visit them at the county courthouse in Coalville, at 60 North Main Street. The Assessor can be emailed at [email protected].

For Wasatch County, call 435-654-3221, or visit them at 25 North Main Street in Heber.

If you have any questions or need help finding comparable properties to support your appeal, please reach out to me sooner than later. I’m happy to walk you through the art of how to appeal your property taxes anytime, but keep the deadline in mind!

There are many reasons people Choose Park City beyond continually-increasing home values. Connect with Christine Grenney at 435-640-4238, or visiting her website by clicking here to learn more about the many benefits to living in this amazing area.

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