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Assessor: Tax protests have been minimal

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Clay County residents have voiced their displeasure over assessment and property tax bills, but have not protested them to the extent of other counties.

"For the assessment ending March 1, 2006, we have only received 154 protests of the values or the property tax bill," Clay County Assessor Mark Barnhart said. "Clay County has 22,649 taxable parcels, so this means only .68 percent of the parcels were protested, which is a very small amount."

Residents had from July 1-Sept. 28 to fill out a Form 130 from the Assessor's Office to protest their assessed valuation or amount on their property tax bill.

Once a protest is filed, it is reviewed by the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA), who either deny the appeal or agree to rework the numbers.

"If the person does not appear before the board on the day of the review, chances are that the appeal will be denied," Barnhart said. "If they are still unhappy, residents could appeal to the Indiana Board of Tax, but if they deny it also, the issue is dead."

Of the 154 total protests filed, 104 disputed the assessed value on Form 11, and 50 were on property taxes, many of which came the last couple days.

"We had 11 filed on the day before the deadline and another eight the last day to file," Barnhart said. "I think it's reasonable to say at least half of the tax protests were filed in the last week residents could file."

The largest amount of protests came out of Brazil City with 57 of the 154 total protests, and 28 of the 50 tax protests, but Barnhart recognizes these numbers are not staggering.

"Things could have been much worse," he said. "Less than 1 percent protested so things weren't nearly as bad as they got in Marion County."

In recent months, marching protests over high property taxes were conducted in both Marion and Putnam counties.

Some of the protests have already been denied due to a misunderstanding of exactly when the assessment numbers are based on.

"Some residents filed protests that some improvements were removed and argued that their assessment should not have been at the level it was," Barnhart said. "The problem was that many of these changes came after March 1 of last year and are not reflected on this assessment and bills. However, they will be reflected on next year's bills"

Barnhart also explained that not all protests are denied.

"We have filled out some Form 133-Correction of Assessment forms to correct errors that have been made in assessments, but it has not been common for us to do so," he said.

Although some residents may be in the appeal process by the deadline to pay property taxes, it does not grant them the right to not pay the bill until the appeal is resolved.

"Property tax bills still have to be paid regardless," Barnhart said. "If an error is indeed found in the assessment or amount on the tax bill, a refund will be sent out to that resident."

For more information about assessment figures or property tax bills, contact the Assessor's Office at 448-9013 or the Clay County Auditor's Office at 448-9001.

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