Frequently Asked Questions on Assessments
What is the Assessor's role?
The Assessor is a State certified individual whose duties are to discover, list, and place a value on all taxable real and personal property in the Village, in a uniform manner. The Assessor is not involved in the billing or collection of property taxes.
What is the difference between real and personal property?
For property tax purposes, "real property" refers to land and buildings, while "personal property" is the furniture and equipment owned or used by businesses.
How does the Assessor value property?
Wisconsin Law requires property assessments to be based on fair market value. Estimating the market value of your property is a matter of determining the price a typical buyer would pay for it in its present condition. Some factors the Assessor considers are: what similar properties are selling for, what it would cost to replace your property, the rent it may earn, and any other factors that affect value. It is important to remember that the Assessor does not create this value, but rather interprets what is happening in the market place.
What is market value?
Market value is defined as the amount a typical, well-informed purchaser would be willing to pay for a property. The seller and buyer must be unrelated, the seller must be willing, but not under pressure to sell, and the buyer must be willing, but not under any obligation to buy. The property must be on the market for a reasonable length of time, the payment must be in cash or its equivalent, and the financing must be typical for that type of property. If all of these conditions were present, this would be a market value, arm's-length sale.
Are values developed by computer?
Yes. Just as in many other fields, computers are useful in the assessment process. Assessors are trained to look for relationships between property characteristics and market value. By coding these characteristics and studying sale prices, assessors can estimate value by developing formulas and models. Computers are much faster and are capable of advanced analysis in this area. But despite these capabilities, common sense and assessor judgement are always required to verify assessments.
Can the assessment on my property be changed even if the Assessor has not been inside my property?
To make a proper assessment on a building, it is desirable for the Assessor to see the inside and the outside of the property. The law requires that property be valued from actual view or the best information available. The Assessor keeps records on the physical characteristics of each property in the municipality. Even though the Assessor may have been unable to go through your property, the assessment will still be reviewed, based on the existing records and the sales of similar properties.
Will I be penalized if I don't let the Assessor in when an inspection is requested?
When an interior inspection is not allowed, the Assessor will attempt to update the records by looking at the property from the outside and using any other available information. To ensure an accurate assessment, it is to your advantage to allow the Assessor inside your property when an inspection is requested. By denying an inspection, you may lose the right to appeal your assessment to the Board of Review.
What will happen to my assessment if I improve my property?
Generally speaking, improvements that increase the market value of a property will increase the assessed value. The following are typical items that will increase the assessed value of your property:
- Added rooms or garages
- Replacing older siding with aluminum or vinyl siding
- Substantial modernization of kitchens or baths
- Central air conditioning
- Extensive remodeling
Will my assessment go up if I repair my property?
Good maintenance will help retain the market value of your property. Generally, your assessment will not be increased for individual minor repairs such as those that follow; however, a combination of several of these items could result in an increased assessment.
Repairing concrete walks and driveways
Repairing original siding
Replacing gutters and downspouts
Replacing hot water heater
Weather stripping, screens, storm windows, doors
Repairing porches and steps
Replacing electrical fixtures
Exterior awnings and shutters
Patching or repairing interior walls and ceilings
Repairing or replacing roof
- Exterior landscaping including lawns, shrubbery, trees, flowers
How can my assessment change when I haven't done anything to my property?
General economic conditions such as interest rates, inflation rates, supply and demand, and changes in tax laws, will influence the value of real estate. As property values change in the market place, those changes must be reflected on the assessment roll.
Do all assessments change at the same rate?
There are differences between individual properties and between neighborhoods. In one area the sales may indicate a substantial increase in value in a given year. In another neighborhood, there may be no change in value, or even a decrease in property values. Different types of properties within the same neighborhood may also show different value changes. For example, one-story houses may be more in demand than two-story houses, or vice-versa. Older homes in the same area may be rising in value more slowly than newer homes. There are numerous factors to be considered in each property, which will cause the values to differ. Some of the factors, which can affect value, are location, condition, size, quality, number of baths, basement finishing, garages, and many others.
Will I be notified if there is a change in my assessment?
Wisconsin law requires that whenever an assessment is changed either as an increase or decrease, the owner must be notified.
What if I don't agree with my assessment?
Talk with the Assessor. During this informal session you can learn how your assessment was made, what factors were considered, and what type of records are kept regarding your property.
After this review, if I still think the assessment is incorrect, what can I do?
The next step is to file an objection with the Board of Review. The Board of Review is held annually and is the formal appeal process. You must file a "Notice of Intent" to file an objection with the Village Clerk prior to the start of the Board of Review's first annual meeting and complete a written objection form. Contact the Assessor's Office to see when the Board of Review is scheduled to meet. When you receive your tax bill in December, it is too late to file an objection. Paying your taxes under protest does not constitute an assessment objection unless you have first filed an appeal with the Board of Review.
What is the Board of Review?
The Board of Review is a 3 member panel. It is the Board's duty to hear evidence by the taxpayer and the Assessor and to decide if the assessment is correct.
What evidence do I need to present to the Board of Review?
State law puts the burden of proof on the property owner to show that the assessment is incorrect. Keep in mind that your evidence must be strong enough to prove that the Assessor's value is incorrect. The Board will consider only relevant testimony given at the hearing. Stating that property taxes are too high is not relevant testimony. You should establish in your mind what you think your property is worth. The best evidence for this would be recent sales prices for properties similar to yours. The closer in proximity and similarity, the better the evidence. Another type of evidence is oral testimony from a witness who has made a recent appraisal of your property.
Does the Board of Review have the final say?
Appeals can be withdrawn or settled at any stage in the process. If you do not agree with the Board of Review decision, the next step is an appeal to the Circuit Court.
How do I appeal my assessment to court?
An appeal to the Circuit Court must be made within 90 days after adjournment of the Board of Review. The court will then make a decision based solely on the testimony that was presented to the Board of Review. When your case goes before the Circuit Court, the court will review the record that was created at your Board of Review hearing and make its decision.