Understanding Tennessee Property Assessments
The Birth of a Parcel
For real property assessments, it all begins with the creation of a parcel. Once created, the assessor of property goes to work. The parcel must be mapped in its proper location. The conditions surrounding the sale of the parcel must be understood. Finally, the parcel must be appraised, properly classified for assessment, and added to the tax roll.
A Parcel Experiences Changes
Change is inevitable, and the assessor of property is responsible for keeping track of changes on every parcel. In many cases, structures are built. Accurate information is gathered by the assessor’s office and entered into a computer-assisted mass appraisal system to ensure fair and equitable values. Whether built new, recently modified, or destroyed, the assessor’s office is responsible for maintaining accurate records on all assessable structures.
Getting to Know Greenbelt
The assessor of property is responsible for administering Tennessee’s Agricultural, Forest, and Open Space Land Act of 1976, or what is more commonly known as “greenbelt.” Qualifying land can benefit from an assessed value based on current use rather than actual market value. Assessors can assist landowners in understanding the greenbelt program, including how to apply and how rollback assessments can occur if the land use is changed after enrolling in greenbelt.
Ready for Revaluation
Tennessee law requires every county to undergo a countywide revaluation of all real property on a 4-, 5-, or 6-year reappraisal cycle. The assessor of property is responsible for the cyclical revaluation with some assistance and oversight from the Comptroller’s Division of Property Assessments. The goal is fair and equitable assessments that reflect market value as of January 1 of the revaluation year.
The Real Deal with Appeals
The assessor of property strives for accurate appraised values so that all taxpayers are paying their fair share of the local property tax. Sometimes, the property owner disagrees with the assessor’s value and wishes to contest the value. Fortunately, Tennessee taxpayers have appeal rights that range from an informal review to an appearance before an administrative law judge. Ultimately, appeals may even move into the judicial system through chancery court. Appeal rights help ensure that property taxes are administered in a fair and transparent manner.
Perusing Personal Property
Land and buildings are real property, but they only make up a portion of the property tax base for local jurisdictions in Tennessee. The other major type of property subject to property tax is tangible personal property that is owned or used by commercial or industrial businesses. A few common examples are vehicles, computers, furniture, and machinery. Businesses self-report their tangible personal property, which is then reviewed, assessed, and potentially audited by the assessor of property.
The Rundown on Ratios and Equalization
All non-exempt property in Tennessee is subject to taxation, but it may not all be appraised at current market value as of the same date due to Tennessee’s cyclical reappraisal cycles. In accordance with State law, Assessors of property revalue real property once every 4, 5, or 6 years but revalue personal property annually. The Comptroller’s Office of State Assessed Properties revalues public utility and transportation properties annually. To ensure a level playing field across all these types of property, an equalization factor is developed through an appraisal ratio study.