Tax bills will increase, but residents have options to manage the impact - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Tax bills will increase, but residents have options to manage the impact

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Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 2:24 pm | Updated: 3:17 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Don’t dread going to the mailbox today. Property valuations from Maricopa County Assessor Keith Russell are on their way, and some home and business owners could be in for a jolt when they see concrete evidence of the recent meteoric rises in land prices.

Every property classification has double-digit increases this year, with the average for single-family homes jumping by nearly 52 percent. But there’s plenty of good news to be found once the sticker shock passes. Consider:

• Higher assessor numbers reflect the fact that your investment has become more valuable. You can sell your home or business property for a profit. You can borrow more against it to finance other things you need.

But a more valuable investment means you also have a greater potential tax liability as well, and that’s what these valuation notices really mean.

• New home valuations actually reflect two years of changing prices because of a policy adopted by the prior county assessor. Russell said he’s returning to annual residential assessments, which should avoid such dramatic adjustments in any future notification.

• You can appeal if you think your new valuation is unfair. Russell told the Tribune that anyone who believes the property can’t be sold for at least the amount of the new valuation should file an appeal.

The assessor’s office has a staff of 300 that compiled the 1.3 million notices being mailed this week. So mistakes are certainly possible, and Russell said he is encouraging his folks to work with residents to correct errors swiftly.

• You have about 18 months to prepare for possible higher taxes associated with these increases. The first tax bill using this week’s valuations won’t be sent until fall 2007.

• You can jump into the political process to rein in any tax increases. The county board of supervisors already has pledged to adjust tax rates under its control to limit tax payments to a 2 percent increase. The county makes up about 10 percent of your total tax bill.

But all taxpayers now have about a year to lobby their school districts, cities, the community college district and other special districts to adopt similar guarantees.

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