INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — I received my property tax assessment notice from the Washoe County Assessor recently and was surprised to see that the taxable value of my land stayed the same but the value of the buildings (i.e. the house) increased by approximately 5%. I find this strikingly odd especially since the median price for a single-family home in Incline Village declined by approximately 6% during the past year.
My first step was to send a letter to the County Treasurer's office with my third property tax installment in early January with documentation showing that the median price of a house in Incline Village had declined to $771,000 last year. I included a cover letter explaining the sales statistics and requested that my property taxes be rolled back to the level of the previous year. In the mail last week I received a letter from the County Assessor and a form to file an appeal.
Now my first question is, if it is generally accepted common knowledge and statistically accurate that the median price of a single-family residence in Incline Village and Crystal Bay decreased in the past year, then why should I have to prove to the assessor the valuation of my specific property? If property values in general declined, then shouldn't the assessor have to show proof as to why they are increasing your assessed valuation?
I know that I am not the only person to have received a property tax increase with the most recent assessment notice. So it begs the question, is Washoe County so broke that they are trying to recover some of the money to pay our tax refunds by increasing our property taxes again arbitrarily? The interest alone in 2012 that will accrue from the overdue tax refunds is in the neighborhood of $2 million.
On January 17, I had a nice conversation with one of the staff in the Washoe County Treasurer's office concerning the property tax refund situation for Incline Village and Crystal Bay. At the present time there are approximately 8 people working on the project and the Treasurer's office has hired some temporary personnel along with pulling in some staff from other departments to work on the refund process. One of the factors that makes it such slow going is that the staff needs to recalculate every tax bill from 2006 going forward for all 8,763 parcels in our community. They have to look up the check images for each parcel and determine who was the owner during each tax year so that refunds will be processed appropriately and not sent to the wrong person. With some properties changing hands 2 or more times since 2006, this makes for a time consuming affair.
Property owners would like to see the tax refunds processed more quickly. So, it came as a surprise to me that the county has not budgeted an amount of money to hire additional staff equal to the interest that will be payable during the first year after we won the court victory. Certainly anyone working on this project will need to undergo some intensive training to understand the nuances associated with calculating the refund for each parcel accurately. However, it is perplexing that the county would rather see interest accrue at the rate of 6% a year and slowly dole out the refunds over a longer period instead of ramping up as quickly as possible to complete the project in the shortest amount of time.
— Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties. Read his blog and weekly stats on his website at www.InsideIncline.com.