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Producing Evidence at Your Hearing

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Producing Evidence at Your Hearing

This information is provided to aid you in understanding how I will prepare evidence on your behalf for the typical appeal hearing having to do with the taxable value of your property.

The standard by which all property is judged is called "fair market value". Tennessee law states, "the value of all property shall be ascertained from the evidence of its sound, intrinsic and immediate value, for purposes for sale between a willing seller and a willing buyer without consideration of speculative values..." More simply, this would be the most probable sales price which you would have received for your property on the assessment date (January 1 of the tax year) if it had been placed on the market for a reasonable amount of time.

In trying to determine the most probable sales price of your property, the price paid by you or another for your property may be a good indicator if the purchase occurred on or about the assessment date and was an arms-length transaction. This means that the sales price and terms are those that would be most often found between total strangers. In addition, the seller and buyer must not be under any undue pressure which would result in a "non-typical" sales price.

Fair market value can also be found by the sales price of comparable properties. A comparable property is one that is similar to yours in size, condition, age and location. For example, if your property has been valued by the assessor at $465,000 and houses in your neighborhood of almost identical size and general construction sold on or about the assessment date for $300,000, this would be the best possible evidence you could bring to the hearing to prove a lower value. A much larger or much smaller property would not qualify as a comparable property.

The final way that I can help you show that your property is valued too high is to show special problems which would make your property worth less than others in your neighborhood. A potential buyer would discount the value of your home during a sale for these usually serious conditions. Examples of this would be major structural damage, frequent flooding or severe termite damage. Generally, a lack of normal maintenance is not a factor unless it is a very extreme case. These negative factors must be expressed in terms of money, such as the amount it would cost to cure the situation.

Remember, my objective at your hearing is to state the value that you feel should be placed upon your property and provide evidence supporting that value.

In presenting your appeal:

1. I will need a recent photograph of your property if we feel that this would help demonstrate our point regarding value.

2. I will bring all the relevant information I can find about sales of comparable properties in your neighborhood, if they occurred on or about the assessment date.

3. It is a good idea to check the assessor's records for errors. Please make sure information such as house dimensions and lot size is correct. This should be done when you contact me about representing you in connection with the challenge to your property appraisal, and you should inform me of any discrepancies.

4. Small variations in property features, such as living area or lot size, may not affect the value a buyer would pay for two otherwise comparable properties. I will need to look for differences that can be shown to affect the market. These differences must be accounted for in any comparison of properties that have sold.

5. You should know that inconsistent results in the assessor's computer value system are not usually enough to prove the value on your property is wrong.

APPEAL PROCEDURES

The following is my appeal procedure for property tax appraisals in Tennessee:

Appeal to the County Board of Equalization

A taxpayer may file a protest of an assessment to the Shelby County Board of Equalization. The statutes require this Board to begin its annual session on May 1 each year. Traditionally, the Board usually meets as required, but then adjourns to meet on a later publicized date in order to allow time for the taxpayers to receive all the notices and complete negotiations with the Assessor. The Board does set an annual deadline for filing an appeal. These dates have been typically June 30 in non-reappraisal years and July 31 in reappraisal years.

Most County Board assessment appeals are first heard by a Hearing Officer appointed by the Board. The Hearing Officer makes a recommendation to the Full Board, however, the Board is not compelled to accept the recommendation. In any event, the taxpayer has the right to a hearing before the Full Board if not satisfied with the Hearing Officer recommendation or if the Board denies the recommendation.

Appeal to the State Board of Equalization

If the taxpayer is not satisfied with the County Board's decision, the taxpayer may appeal further to the State Board of Equalization. The appeal must be filed before August 1 or within forty five (45) days from the date of the notice from the County Board of Equalization, whichever is the later date.

The State Board is appellate only; that is, all appeals must first be heard by the County Board. If the taxpayer fails to first appear before the County Board of Equalization, an appeal may be filed directly with the State Board if the Taxpayer is able to show reasonable cause for not following the property procedures.

Appeals to the State Board may be filed in electronic or in written form. If filed online, the Taxpayer is still subsequently required to file a notarized statement.

There are fees for State Board filings. As these fees change from time to time, Taxpayers are advised to contact the State Board for the latest charges.

The State Board hearing is conducted first before a Hearing Officer or Administrative Judge. If the taxpayer is not satisfied after the first hearing, a further appeal may be filed with the Assessment Appeals Commission. The taxpayer may file a further appeal to the State Board members, but granting a hearing or review is at the Board's discretion.

The taxpayer has the right to file for judicial review in chancery courty of any final order from the Board. Few assessment valuation cases are filed in the courts in Tennessee. Among other reasons, this is primarily due to the many levels of administrative appeals first offered the taxpayer

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Paul B. Billings, Jr.
Paul Billings Law
5305 Distriplex Farms Drive
Memphis, TN 38141-8231.

Phone: 901-881-7019
Toll-Free: 877-531-1736
Fax: 866-772-4244
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