Your Property Taxes
Property Taxes: A Primer and Call to Action
In 2010 many Kootenai County residents saw a decrease in their property values, but many also saw an
increase in their property taxes?...Why? Here's the recent trend:
In 2008, property tax revenues increased by 7%
In 2009, property tax revenues were increased by another 5%.
In 2010, property tax revenues were increased by over 3%.
There are 48 taxing authorities within Kootenai County including the county itself*. The budgets of
the majority of these taxing authorities are funded primarily by property taxes. You are only taxed by
the taxing authorities in your area-typically around 7-10 authorities. Along with taxes, there are
special assessment fees on your property tax statement. For Kootenai County, there is the solid waste
fee. If you are in the Aquifer Protection District, there is a fee for this district as well.
What factors determine property taxes?
There are two components of property taxes: valuation and taxation.
Valuation is the responsibility of the Assessor. The Assessor determines your assessed valuation and
this determines the overall share of taxes you pay. Idaho State Law requires the Assessor to value property
at 100% of market value each year and complete a re-appraisal every five years.
Your property value may change from year to year. This change is caused by many factors such as inflation,
recession, and a change to the property itself by adding a bedroom, remodeling a bathroom or a kitchen. The
most frequent cause of change is a market change in your community. Location is a key characteristic which
affects your property value. If your neighborhood becomes a desirable location, values increase. Conversely,
if your neighborhood begins to age or downgrade, values may decrease.
Taxation is the responsibility of the Boards who oversee and approve a taxing district budget. In
short, taxation is the result of a math equation (levy calculation) stemming from the taxing authorities
budget and your property value. The primary aspects of the math equation you can personally impact lie in
two areas; your property value and the taxing district budget process.
The taxing authorities approve their yearly budget (the maximum yearly increase allowed under state law is 3%
plus new growth component) and divide their budget by the total net taxable value (after exemptions) of the district
arriving at the quotient which is the levy rate.
For fiscal year 2011, the following is the breakdown of fund levy rates which results in the total Kootenai
County levy rate:
|Parks and Recreation||0.000100000||0.000016440||16.4%|
|Total County Levy||0.007520000||0.002945517||39.2%|
The levy rate is multiplied by your property value and the product is your property tax amount.
|Taxing Disctrict Budget
Total Net Value of Taxing
|= Levy Rate X
|Your property value||= Your property tax
For example, if a taxing district has a budget of $1 million and the total value of the taxing district
is $100 million, the resulting division problem would equate to a levy rate of 1%. The 1% levy rate is
multiplied by your property value, in this simplified example your value is $100,000 and the resulting
$1,000 is your property tax bill.
Here's the same example in the equation:
|Taxing Disctrict Budget $1 million
Total Net Value of District of $100 million
|= Levy Rate 1% X
|Your property value|
= Your property tax
Are your property taxes too high?
Here are four practical actions for possible reductions:
Action 1. Taxing District Budget Hearings: Review your property tax statement. Find the contact
name and number for each of your tax district authorities. Meet with these individuals and their board and
lobby your case. Attend the public hearings where they present and approve their yearly budget. Be involved.
Be heard. Stay involved. Action 1 is your most valuable opportunity to influence your property taxes.
Action 2. Verify your property value: In Idaho, the Assessor is required by state law to place the
current fair market value on all taxable properties on a yearly basis. (Note: Other states use current market
price as opposed to current market value. Also bear in mind that Idaho is not a full disclosure state.) The
current market value is determined by an appraisal process compiled from analyzing and considering all three
approaches to value: cost, sales comparison and income and your specific personal property all resulting in
your assessed value.
If you feel your assessed value is too high or too low, please arrange to meet with the Kootenai County
Assessor's office. Have your valuation explained and how they arrived at your value to insure the Assessor
has the correct information. Examples: You have an exposed beam design, not a timber frame. You have an
unfinished basement, not a finished space.
In order to be effective in an appeal, you must support your position of your property being over-valued
or incorrect. If you are not satisfied with the final assessment of value, it's your right to file an appeal
with the Kootenai County Board of Equalization.
Action 3. Appeal to the County Board of Equalization: County government in Idaho is a unique body.
The Board of County Commissioners encompass all three branches of government: executive, legislative and
judicial. In addition, they wear a "fourth hat" and transform into a quasi-judicial appeal board, the Board
of Equalization (BOE) in accordance with Article VII, Section 12 of the Idaho State Constitution and Idaho
Statue 63-501 during the last week of June into early July.
Please understand an appeal to the BOE is not a forum to protest your property tax amount. This process
starts at the taxing district budget hearings-see Action 1 above. Rather, an appeal to the BOE is the forum in
which the only consideration will be current year assessed value of properties. The BOE has the responsibility
to hear appeals and to equalize the value of property. The property owner or representative has the burden of
proof pursuant to Idaho Code 63-502. You must prove your assessed value is not market value based upon objective,
factual evidence and legal standards.
Instructions for filing an appeal are on the back of your assessment notice. Appeal Forms are available from
the Kootenai County Commissioner's website here.
The deadline for filing a completed form is the
fourth Monday of June by 5:00 p.m. If you do not file by the deadline, you will lose your right to appeal your
property value for the current year. You will be mailed written notification of the time and date of your hearing.
Appeal hearings are approximately 30 minutes in length. The Assessor and property owner or representative will be
allowed 10 minutes each to present their case. A written appeal may also be submitted for review.
Keep in mind, pursuant to Idaho Statue 63-502, the Board of Equalization has a narrow focus and the function of
The Board is confined to assuring that the market value placed on your property for assessment purposes is fair and
accurate--not whether the tax is too high or if you can afford to pay the full amount on your property tax statement.
Your appeal is more likely to be successful if you present evidence which shows comparable properties, in the past
year, sold for less than your property's value. The taxpayer has the burden of proof in seeking affirmative relief
to establish that the determination of the assessor is erroneous, including any determination of assessed value. A
preponderance of the evidence shall suffice to sustain the burden of proof.
Action 4. Appeal to the State Board of Equalization: If you disagree with the County Board of Equalization's
decision you can appeal your decision to the State Board of Tax Appeal or to District Court. The State Board of Tax
Appeals is comprised of three citizens appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The Board was created
to provide taxpayers with an impartial and inexpensive quasi-judicial appeal process. The Board conducts hearings
around the state in several convenient locations.
Appeal Forms for the Idaho Board of Tax Appeals are available from their web page here.
The form and any attachments must be filed with the County Auditor within thirty (30) days after the mailing of a decision
of the Board of Equalization or pronouncement of a decision at hearing. Pursuant to Idaho Code 63-502 the county auditor
shall submit appeals to the Board of Tax Appeals within thirty (30) days of being notified of the appeal or by October 1,
whichever is later. The Board of Tax Appeals may receive further evidence and will hear the appeal as provided in chapter
38, title 63, Idaho Code. Any appeal that may be taken to the Board may, during the same time period, be taken to the
District Court for the county in which the property is located.
In any appeal taken to the Board of Tax Appeals or to District Court, the burden of proof falls upon the party
seeking affirmative relief to establish that the valuation from which the appeal is taken is erroneous, or that
the Board of Equalization erred in its decision regarding a claim that certain property is exempt from taxation,
the value thereof, or any other relief sought before the Board of Equalization.
A preponderance of the evidence shall suffice to sustain the burden of proof. The burden of proof shall fall upon the
party seeking affirmative relief and the burden of going forward with the evidence shall shift as in other civil litigation.
The Board of Tax Appeals or the Court may affirm, reverse, modify or remand any order of the Board of Equalization, and shall
grant other relief, invoke such other remedies, and issue such orders in accordance with its decision as appropriate.