FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - APPEALS
1. Should I file an appeal with the State Board when I receive my valuation change notice from the Assessor?
No. The property tax appeal process begins with the County Board. You may not file an appeal with the State Board until you have received your decision from the County Board.[Back to top]
2. If I am dissatisfied with the County Board' decision, What are my options?
1. You may appeal the County Board's decision to the State Board. This method, chosen by most property owners, is the method described on this page.
2. You may pay your taxes under protest and petition the Superior Court for a refund by filing a lawsuit under RCW 84.68. This method is used infrequently.
3. You may do both.
3. If I receive a reduction in value from the County Board, and I choose to appeal to the State Board for a further reduction, Do I risk losing the reduction I received from the County Board?
Yes, you do risk losing the reduction you received from the County Board. The State Board may determine a value for your property which is the same as, lower than, or higher than the value established by the County Board. However, if the State Board does set aside the County Board's decision, the State Board may not assign a value higher than the Assessor's original value.[Back to top]
4. May the Assessor file an appeal with the State Board?
Yes. The Assessor has the right to appeal to the State Board if he or she is dissatisfied with the County Board's decision. If the Assessor files an appeal with the State Board, the State Board will notify you and provide you with instructions for filing an Answer To Notice of Appeal. The appeal process and hearing procedures will be the same as those described in this brochure.[Back to top]
5. Should I request a Formal or Informal Hearing?
Most property owners request an informal hearing. If you request an informal hearing, the State Board's decision cannot be appealed to Superior Court. The State Board will process your appeal as a request for an informal hearing unless either party requests a formal hearing. If either you or the Assessor requests a formal hearing, the State Board's decision may be appealed to Superior Court. You, as the Appellant, must request the formal hearing when you file your appeal with the State Board. The Assessor, as the Respondent, must request the formal hearing by notifying the State Board in writing within twenty calendar days from the date of mailing of the Notice of Appeal.[Back to top]
6. What are the basic differences between an Informal and a Formal Hearing?
The State Board conducts informal hearings under Rules of Practice and Procedure found in WAG 456-10. These rules are designed to enable property owners to represent themselves at the hearing. Informal hearings are heard by one or more Board Members or by a Tax Referee.
The State Board conducts formal hearings under the provisions of the Washington State Administrative Procedure Act, RCW 34.05. Formal hearings are usually requested by persons considering an appeal to Superior Court on the record developed at the State Board hearing. A court reporter is normally present at formal hearings to record the oral testimony presented, and both parties are usually represented by an attorney.
7. Where do I get the form to file an appeal with the state board?
You may obtain a Notice of Appeal - Property Tax form (BTAL 00) from any offices of the County Assessor or the Clerk of the County Board, or by contacting the State Board at 360-753-5446. The Notice of Appeal form is also available on the State Board's web site at http://bta.state.wa.us. Appeals may also be filed using the format outlined in WAC 456-09-31 0 for formal hearings or WAC 456-10-31 0 for informal hearings.[Back to top]
8. How do I file and appeal with the State Board?
To file an appeal, you must submit an "appeal packet" containing:
- a completed Notice of Appeal form, and
- a copy of the County Board of Equalization Order (County Board Order) that you are appealing.
Do not send any other material to the State Board at the time you submit your appeal packet. After you receive the State Board's letter acknowledging receipt of your appeal packet, you can submit any additional material that supports your case. Any additional material that you submit to the State Board must also be provided to the County Assessor at least ten business days prior to your hearing.
Mail, fax, or deliver your appeal packet to the State Board's office in Olympia on or before the 30th day after the mailing date of the County Board Order Detailed instructions for mailing, faxing, or delivering your appeal packet are included on the Notice of Appeal form.
9. What does "on or before the 30th day" mean?
The first day of the 30-day period is the day after the County Board Order is "mailed" (the County Board Order may simply say "dated" or "issued" and not say "mailed".) The last day of the period-the 30th day-is included in the count, unless it falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal state holiday. Then, the 30-day period runs through the Saturday, Sunday, or legal state holiday to the next weekday. Remember that some months have 31 days, so you cannot assume, for example, that you have until June 18 to appeal a County Board Order that was mailed on May 18. If you do, you will be one day late, and the State Board cannot accept your appeal.[Back to top]
10. What happens after I file my appeal packet?
The State Board will notify you of the docket number assigned to your appeal. You will be notified of your hearing date by mail at least twenty calendar days before the date set for your hearing.[Back to top]
11. Will I have to go to Olympia for my State Board hearing?
The State Board conducts most informal property valuation hearings in the county where the property is located. Formal hearings, hearings involving large valuations, or hearings involving complex legal issues are normally held in Olympia.[Back to top]
12. Will I have to attend my State Board hearing?
It is in your best interest to attend your hearing. The State Board can only consider sworn testimony. If you are unable to attend and are not represented, your appeal may be dismissed in accordance with WAC 456-09-745 or WAC 456-10-550. However, in most instances, if you are unable to attend and are not represented, the State Board will make a decision based on the written record.[Back to top]
13. What happens at the State Board hearing?
You and the Assessor will each have the opportunity to present written and oral testimony and present witnesses in support of your respective opinions of value. RCW 84.40.0301 provides that the valuation placed on your property by the Assessor is presumed to be correct. The burden of proof is on you to show that the Assessors valuation conclusion is incorrect. You can best do this by either (1) showing significant errors in the Assessor's appraisal methods or computations, or (2) presenting compelling, independent evidence of your property's value.[Back to top]
14. What type of testimony will be considered at the State Board hearing?
All written and oral testimony must relate to the market value of the property under appeal, not the assessed value of other properties. State law (RCW 84.40.030) requires property to be assessed at 100 percent of its true and fair value. True and fair value is market value: the amount for which the property would sell on the open market.[Back to top]
15. Do I have to provide testimony on the market value of both the land and the improvements?
Yes. The State Board will consider the market value of both land and improvements in determining a total value for the property. Your written and oral testimony should support the total market value of the property under appeal, not just the value of the land or the value of the improvements.[Back to top]
16. How can I determine Market Value?
There are three acceptable methods for determining market value: (1) a sales comparison (or market) approach, (2) a cost approach, (3) an income capitalization approach, or any combination of the three approaches.[Back to top]
17. If my appeal involves Residential property, what method should I use to determine market value?
You should use the sales comparison (or market) approach. The best sales comparisons are sales of your property or sales of similar properties located in your area which have occurred within five years of your assessment date. Sales occurring closest to your assessment date and sales which are the most comparable to your property are given the greatest weight.[Back to top]
18. May I present different comparable sales to the state board than I presented to the county board?
Yes. Both you and the Assessor may present different comparable sales to the State Board than those presented to the County Board. The Assessor must provide any new comparable sales to you and the State Board at least ten business days before the hearing. You also must provide any new comparable sales to the Assessor and the State Board at least ten business days before the hearing.[Back to top]
19. Where do I get the comparable sales information I need to prepare for my state board hearing?
The comparable sales information which the Assessor used at your County Board hearing is readily available from the Assessor. This information includes a copy of your property's characteristics and the characteristics of the comparable sales the Assessor used at your County Board hearing. If you wish to present new comparable sales at your State Board hearing, you may obtain that information from records at the Assessors Office or from realtors or title companies. Select sale properties which sold closest to your assessment date and which are most comparable to your property. Property owners in King County can receive additional assistance by contacting the office of the King County Property Tax Advisor.[Back to top]
20. How should I use this information to prepare for my state board hearing?
Prepare a written comparison sheet which shows why the Assessor's sales are not comparable to your property and why the comparable sales you have selected support your opinion of value. For each comparable sale on your sheet, be sure to include the account number or parcel number of the property, the address of the property, the date of the sale, and the sale price. Also include as much information regarding the key characteristics of the property as you feel necessary to support your opinion of value. Key characteristics to consider are:
- Location (Sales in the Same Subdivision or Neighborhood are the Best Evidence)
- Unit of Comparison (Lot Size; Acreage; Square Feet; Waterfront Feet)
- Desirable Features Such as View or Waterfront
- Undesirable Features Such as Access Problems or Wetlands
- Sewer/Septic System/Water System
- Type of Construction (Wood ; Brick; Other)
- Square Feet of Total Finished Living Area (All Floors)
- Year Built
- Number of Stories
- Improvement Type and Construction Quality
- Building Condition
- Number of Bedrooms/Bathrooms
Include a map showing the location of your property and the comparable sale properties. You should also include any other evidence which supports your reason for challenging the assessment; for example: (1) appraisals prepared by others, (2) documentation by qualified experts concerning problems, (3) written commercial estimates of the cost to cure problems, and (4) photographs or videos.
Prepare your case as thoroughly as possible. You must provide enough data to support your opinion of value. Your written and oral testimony should be understandable, logical, and believable. The State Board has extensive knowledge in many areas including appraisal practice and finance. However, the State Board will not sift through unorganized data in order to develop your case.
21. May I also use the cost approach to determine market value?
If your appeal involves new construction, you may also use a cost approach to determine the market value of your improvements. This approach details the cost to reproduce or replace the improvements at current prices. You must include ALL costs, including labor performed by you or a contractor, materials, permits, drawings, etc. The State Board recognizes the Marshall Valuation Service as one authority on construction costs. You should use the sales comparison approach to determine the market value of your land.[Back to top]
22. If my appeal involves commercial or Industrial property, what method should I use?
If your appeal involves commercial or industrial property, you may use all three approaches to value. You may want to consult a real estate appraiser or a lawyer to help you prepare your case. When sufficient data is available, the sales comparison approach and the income capitalization approach will be given more weight in most commercial and industrial appeals. Your income capitalization approach should be based upon market conditions--typical market income and expenses. Income and expenses of the property under appeal may also be used. Income, expenses, and capitalization rates must be verifiable and supported. You should provide a copy of your income and expense statement and all leases pertinent to the property. If the income or expenses of the property under appeal vary from typical market income and expenses, you must show why such variations are reasonable or typical for the property.[Back to top]
23. When will I get the State Board's Decision?
The State Board's decision will be mailed to you at a later date, normally within four months.[Back to top]
24. If my taxes are due before I receive the State Board's decision, What should I do?
You should pay your taxes when they are due to avoid any interest and penalty charges. If the State Board's decision lowers your valuation, you will be entitled to a refund from the county.[Back to top]
25. What if I am dissatisfied with the State Board's Decision?
If the hearing was conducted by a Tax Referee or one Board Member, the State Board will issue a Proposed Decision. You may file an exception to a Proposed Decision. You must file the letter of exception with the State Board within twenty calendar days of the date of mailing of the Proposed Decision. You must also file a copy with the Assessor. The letter of exception should be brief and must clearly specify why the Proposed Decision did not properly consider the evidence or that there was an omission of certain pertinent facts. The Assessor may submit a reply to the exception within ten business days. The State Board will then consider the matter and issue a Final Decision. There is no reconsideration from this Final Decision. If exceptions are not filed, the Proposed Decision becomes the State Board's Final Decision.
If the hearing was conducted by two or more Board Members, the State Board will normally issue a Final Decision. You may file a petition for reconsideration after a Final Decision has been issued. You must file the petition for reconsideration with the State Board within ten business days of the date of mailing of the Final Decision. You must also file a copy with the Assessor. The filing of a petition for reconsideration suspends the Final Decision until action by the State Board. The State Board may deny the petition, modify its decision, or reopen the hearing.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For a complete copy of the State Board's administrative rules, see WAC 456-09 and WAC 456-1 0 or contact the State Board; the rules will be sent to you. You can also visit the Board's web site at http://bta.state.wa.us where you can search previous State Board decisions or view WAC 456-09 and WAC 456-10.
If you have questions concerning the information on this page, or would like to request this brochure in an alternate format, contact the State Board at:
BOARD OF TAX APPEALS
PO BOX 40915, OLYMPIA WA 98504-0915
PH: 360-753-5446 Voice/TDD