Ensuring That Your Commercial and Industrial Real Estate is Properly Assessed for 2011 In Light of Declining Property Values
With the sharp decline in real estate values, business property owners must take affirmative steps early in 2011 to ensure that their 2011 property tax assessments are reduced to reflect current property values, and do not continue at higher values which are above current fair market value.
In years when real estate values were constantly increasing, assessors moved annually to raise assessments in an attempt to capture those steady value increases. In a declining market, however, with municipal governments struggling to retain their historic revenue sources, assessors have not been as quick to reduce those values to reflect the current market, and business property owners thus need to be proactive on their own behalf.
In Wisconsin, assessors are not required to notify property owners of their current year assessment, or advise them of the procedures for challenging their assessment, unless the assessment is changing from the prior year. Thus, if an assessor chooses simply to leave the prior assessment in place and not reduce it to reflect declining values, the property owner will not receive any notice and will have to take timely steps to protect himself or herself.
Challenging property tax assessments is especially difficult in a declining market, since Wisconsin law requires assessments to be based on property sales, and assessors may look to the absence of current sales in a depressed market to justify reliance on earlier, pre-decline sales which do not reflect current values. Property owners thus need to be especially well prepared to challenge their assessments in a declining market.
Under Wisconsin law, 2011 assessments are made as of January 1, 2011, and will be issued beginning in April 2011. Property owners must take steps to protect themselves early in 2011.