The Appeal Process for Real Property
The administrative appeal process in Arizona allows a taxpayer to request a review of the Assessor's opinion of the full cash value (FCV) or the legal classification of the property, but not of the limited property value (LPV). (See 130 Instructions or 130 Residential Instructions.)
In 1995, the January I lien date became the valuation date for the next year's roll: 1996. A.R.S. § 42-11001 states that the "valuation date, for purposes of property on the secured tax roll, means January 1 of the year preceding the year in which taxes are levied." Essentially, this means that the value placed on the property on January 1 will be the value used to calculate property taxes for the following tax year. Previously, the valuation date of January 1 was for the same year as the year in which taxes were levied. Applying this concept further, the January 1, 1996, lien date is the valuation date for the 1997 tax year. The valuation date was changed to allow the administrative appeals process to run its course completely before the tax roll is certified, the tax base is calculated, and taxes are levied (based on the values on the roll). This allows counties to budget based on actual property tax revenues rather than projected revenues.
Property owners are notified in writing by the Assessor as to the full cash value (FCV) of the property and the limited property value (LPV). The notices must be mailed by March 1 of the valuation year (year preceding the tax year). The values reported are to be used for the following tax year. Property owners dissatisfied with the value or classification of their property by the County Assessor may appeal by following a strict appeals procedure and timetable. There is an administrative appeal process and a judicial appeal process.
The administrative appeal process has two levels, the Assessor level and the Board of Equalization level. All administrative appeals must commence by filing a petition for review of valuation or classification with the County Assessor (Level One) of the county in which the property is located. The County Assessor sends out the notices of value before but no later than March 1. The taxpayer then has 60 days from the time the notice was mailed to appeal to the County Assessor's office. At the petitioner's written request, the Assessor's appraisers will meet with the petitioner to review the valuation or classification of the property. If the Assessor grants the petitioner's request in full, the petitioner may not appeal the ruling.
The County Assessor's office must rule on all petitions by August l5. If the petitioner's appeal is denied all or in part, the petitioner may appeal to the County or State Board of Equalization within 25 days. Or, the petitioner may file a judicial appeal with the Court within 60 days of the date of mailing of the Assessor's decision.
County Board of Equalization
Each county with a population of less than 500,000 must use the County Board of Equalization to hear the second level of administrative appeal. This includes all counties except Maricopa and Pima Counties. In Maricopa and Pima Counties (populations greater than 500,000) the State Board of Equalization must be utilized for Level Two appeals.
The County Board of Equalization must issue its decision within 10 days of the date the petition was heard but, without exception, no later than October 15. The petitioner who is dissatisfied with the decision may appeal within 60 days to the Court.
If you want to file your petition with County Board of Equalization, you may send it to:
Pinal County Board of Supervisors
ATTN: Natasha Kennedy
P.O. Box 827
Florence, AZ 85132
State Board of Equalization
As previously noted, all counties with a population of more than 500,000 must use the State Board of Equalization. Currently this includes only Maricopa and Pima Counties. All hearings are heard in the county where the property is located. Hearings involving properties valued at $500,000 or less are heard by one member of the Board or an appointed hearing officer. All other appeals for property valued at more than $500,000 are heard by a panel of either three or five members of this Board. The State Board of Equalization must complete all hearings and issue all decisions before October 15.
Any party who is dissatisfied with the final decision of the Board may appeal to Court within 60 days of the date the notice of the decision is mailed.
There is no cost for filing a petition for review at any level of the administrative process. Thus, most appeals are resolved somewhere in this arena rather than in the courts.
Some counties resolve many disputes before any petition for review is filed by meeting with the taxpayer to explain or correct errors that may have occurred.
Tax Court & Superior Court
Judicial appeals by the taxpayer may be filed in a Court, having property jurisdiction for tax cases. Any person dissatisfied with the valuation, classification, or appeal decision by the County Assessor or State or County Board of Equalization may appeal to court. This appeal must be filed within 60 days of the date of mailing of the most recent administrative decision relating to the petition of subsequent administrative appeal.
All taxes levied and assessed against the property on which an appeal has been filed with the court shall be paid prior to the date the taxes become delinquent. If such taxes are not paid prior the delinquent date, the court shall dismiss the appeal.