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FRANKLIN COUNTY BOARD OF EQUALIZATION


What and who is the Board of Equalization (BOE)?
The Board is independent of the Assessor's Office. They are comprised of three County residents who are appointed by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners for three-year terms. Board members receive a per diem for the days they are in hearings. The Board is governed by the state Department of Revenue as supported by RCW 84.08.020 and 84.08.060.

How does the Assessor value property?
State law requires the Assessor to value all taxable property at 100% of its true and fair market value in money, according to the highest and best use of the property. Fair market value or true value is the amount that a willing and unobligated buyer is willing to pay to a willing and unobligated seller. The Assessor values real property using one or more acceptable appraisal methods: the market or sales comparison method, the cost approach, an income capitalization approach for income-producing property, or any combination of the three approaches.

How can citizens appeal the assessed value of their property to the Franklin County Board of Equalization?
The only way to appeal an Assessor's valuation of property is by filing a complete appeal petition in a timely manner with the Board of Equalization. There is no fee charged for filing an appeal. The prescribed appeal petition form must be used. A letter or phone call is not acceptable as a substitute for the petition form.

The petition must be filed with the Board of Equalization at the below address.

Board of Equalization
Franklin County
1016 N. 4th Ave, room A102
Pasco, WA 99301

Petition forms are available directly from the BOE or may be downloaded from the Department of Revenue website at http://dor.wa.gov/content/GetAFormOrPublication

Please be advised that "Faxed" Petitions are acceptable only for the purpose of protecting a deadline to file. You must still submit the original Petition with signature to our office.

The most commonly used forms are:

Taxpayer petition for review of real property valuation determination: Form 64 0075e
Taxpayer petition for review of personal property valuation determination: Form 640076e
Taxpayer petition for review of current use determination: Form 64 0077e

Who may file an appeal?
A property owner or taxpayer may appeal. Taxpayer means the person or entity whose name and address appears on the assessment rolls, or their duly authorized agent. The appeal is filed with the Board of Equalization of the county in which the property is located.

When do I receive a 'Change of Value Notice' or 'Value Notice'?
The assessor will send you a notice when the assessed value of your property changes. You may also receive a notice showing "No Change" in value. The County Assessor is required to physically inspect and value real property at least every six years. Please note: Franklin County is on an annual revaluation cycle. After determining the value, the assessor mails the taxpayer a "Change of Value Notice" or "Value Notice". The notice will show the assessed value of land and improvements separately. The total assessed value should not exceed the market value of your property. The total assessed value is the only value you can appeal. The 'allocation' of value between land and improvements cannot be considered.

Also, keep in mind that the Assessor is obligated to send the notice to the 'owner' whose name and address appears on the assessment rolls. Often, the 'owner' and 'taxpayer' can also be two different parties. It is therefore your responsibility to notify the assessor of any incorrect information or address changes. It is additionally your responsibility to request that the Assessor or the mortgage or the lending company send copies of the notices to you.

What is the deadline for filing an appeal?
July 1 of the assessment year or within 30 days of when a Change of Value notice or other determination was mailed by the Assessor's Office, whichever date is later.

If the petition is mailed, it must be postmarked by midnight of the deadline. Petitioners may hand deliver the petition to the Board Clerk and have it date stamped. If appealing other Assessor determinations, for example, denial of an application of current use or removal of a classification from property, citizens have 30 days from the date of the mailing of notification. Non-assessment appeals have the same appeal deadline, July 1 or 30 days after the notice, whichever is later.

Pursuant to WAC 458-14-116(6)(a): In counties with a multiyear revaluation cycle, once the board has issued a decision with respect to a taxpayer's real property, and when there has been no intervening change in assessed value, any subsequent appeal to the board by the same taxpayer relating to the same property shall be treated as a motion for reconsideration. The board must hold a hearing on the appeal/motion ONLY if the taxpayer can show that there is newly discovered evidence that materially affects the basis for the board's decision and the taxpayer can show that the evidence could not with reasonable diligence have been discovered and produced at the original hearing. This evidence must be submitted along with the appeal.


Should property owners contact the Assessor's Office?
Contact the Assessor's Office to review your valuation any time you have a question regarding your property value. Property owners can often settle disagreements at this level without continuing the appeal process. However, you still need to preserve your appeal rights by timely filing your petition with the Board of Equalization.

Am I encouraged to exchange valuation information and supporting evidence at a reasonable time prior to hearing?
Yes. This allows parties to possibly resolve their dispute at this level so that a hearing before the independent Board of Equalization would not be necessary.

How is the resolve processed?
By either of two ways: Stipulation of Value or Withdrawal

Forms are normally processed through the Assessor's Office requiring appropriate signatures and forwarded to the Board of Equalization for proper finalization and closure.

What information must be provided for a completed petition?
A properly completed petition is completion of all areas on the petition form to the best of one's ability and must also include specific reasons why the property owner believes that the Assessor's valuation is not correct. Arguments such as the amount of the tax, the assessed value of other properties, the percentage by which the assessment increased, personal hardship, and other matters unrelated to market value cannot, by law, be considered by the Board.

To appeal, you must show that the Assessor erred in the appraisal. To do this, you provide evidence that clearly shows that the appraisal value does not reflect market value.

What is acceptable evidence?
Acceptable evidence includes, but is not limited to written contractor estimates of cost to cure; letters or documents from government agencies and/or experts regarding development limitations; deeds describing easements that impact value; appraisal documents; excise documents of property sales; photos; and maps showing access limitations, etc. Evidence and testimony that estimate market value based on analysis of comparable sales is most persuasive. Appraisals, sales, written briefs, and photos are examples of evidence that may be relevant to the determination of market value.

The Board has no authority to consider assessed value comparisons of other properties to determine market value.

How do I find comparable sales?
Information regarding sales of comparable properties may be obtained through personal research, local realtors, appraisers, at the county Assessor's office or by accessing the Assessor's website at: http://www.co.franklin.wa.us/assessor. Because State law requires that all property be valued at 100% of market value, sales of comparable properties are the best indicator of market value. The BOE must use the standard of comparable sales to make their decision. Therefore, it is important to include comparable sales information in your appeal.

What if there are no properties comparable to mine?
Comparable properties do not have to exactly match your property. Look for properties that are most similar, then note their differences and adjust the value of the other property to reflect those differences. For example, if your property has an obscured view, and the only similar property that sold has a much better view, discount the sale price to the amount you believe someone would be willing to pay for the lesser view. If your property has deteriorated conditions that would make it difficult to sell, provide written contractor estimates of the "cost to cure" for those conditions. Photos are particularly effective support for arguments regarding condition.

Additional evidence, above and beyond that required for complete petitions, may be submitted by mail up to seven business days prior to your hearing. Failure by any party to meet this requirement could result in the board's refusal to consider evidence which was not timely submitted. The Board has no authority to consider assessed value comparisons of other properties to determine market value.

When will I have a hearing?
You will be notified by mail at least 15 business days prior to the scheduled hearing of the date, time and place where hearings will be conducted.

What can I expect at the hearing?
You and the Assessor may each have the opportunity to give oral testimony in support of your opinions of value. You may even cross-examine each other and rebut the evidence. The hearing is an informal review designed to enable property owners to represent themselves without an attorney. Keep in mind that the Assessor is, by law, presumed to be correct. The burden of proof is on you to show that the assessed value is not correct by presenting clear, cogent and convincing evidence to support your estimate of market value. If you do not provide evidence to support why you feel the value is incorrect the Board has no alternative but to uphold the Assessor's valuation.

Can the BOE increase my assessed value?
The BOE has the authority to raise, lower or sustain the Assessor's determination.

When will I receive a decision?
Decisions are typically mailed within 30 days of the hearing.

What if I am not satisfied with the Board of Equalization's decision?
Either the Appellant or the Assessor may appeal a BOE decision to the State Board of Tax Appeals. An appeal must be filed with the State Board within thirty (30) calendar days of the mailing date of the local Board's decision. You may also pay your taxes under protest and petition the Superior Court for a refund by filing a lawsuit under chapter 84.68 RCW.

Appeals to the State Board of Tax Appeals are heard on a "de novo" basis which means that it is a "new" hearing opportunity. The State Board conducts a full hearing on the appeal, and is not restricted to reviewing only the evidence considered by the BOE. The parties to the appeal can provide new arguments, testimony, and evidence to the State Board that was not presented to the local BOE. The State Board is bound by the same standards of review as the county boards which means that the Assessor's original value enjoys the same "presumption of correctness" to the value placed on the property by the BOE, even if the Assessor recommends a value change that the county board adopts.

BTA Forms are available by contacting the State Board of Tax Appeals at P.O. Box 40915, Olympia, WA 98504-0915 or may be obtained online at http://www.bta.state.wa.us/appeal/forms.htm . You may also e-file an informal property valuation appeal to the BTA by accessing their website above.

Should I wait until after my hearing to pay my property taxes?
If your case is still pending a hearing at the time taxes are due (April 30th), you must still pay the taxes indicated by the Treasurer at that time. Once your hearing is held and a determination by the Board is made, if an adjustment to value has been determined, either a refund will be issued by the Treasurer or a credit may be applied to your second half taxes which are due October 31.


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