Minnesota assessors must be licensed by the Minnesota State Board of Assessors. To be certified by the State Board, an assessor must first successfully pass three week-long courses on assessment procedures and appraisal practice, and serve a one year apprenticeship under a licensed assessor. Assessors have a continuing education requirement of 40 to 50 hours of training over each four year period. Beyond this, there are additional State Board requirements for appraising income producing properties and performing more difficult assessment functions.
County assessors estimate property market values and classify them according to their use for property tax purposes. Each year the assessor reviews the market valuation of your property to determine if changes in the real estate market require a change in the estimated market value. Minnesota law requires that assessors actually view each parcel of real estate every four years to appraise its market value. In addition, each year the appraiser inspects parcels with new construction, alterations or improvements.
Taxing jurisdictions such as the county, schools, cities, and townships, adopt their budget after public hearings. From these budgets the County Auditor determines the tax levy, which is used to calculate the rate of taxation required to raise the money budgeted. The taxes you pay are proportionate to the value and classification of your property compared to other properties in your taxing district.
The Assessor’s responsibility is with market value and classification, NOT TAXES. The Assessor does not:
* Collect Taxes
* Calculate Taxes
* Determine Tax Rate
* Establish Property Tax Laws
Market value is the price a willing, knowledgeable buyer would pay for your property if it were offered for sale on the open market. The assessor does not create this value, but instead interprets what is happening in the marketplace. Values change with economic conditions as well as changes to the property.
The assessor visits your property to record the existence and character of improvements that contribute to its market value. The assessor collects sales information on all types of property, and studies characteristics such as location, size of the parcel, improvements and amenities that affect what buyers would pay for your property. Local sales will impact local values. The assessor uses actual sales of similar properties in your neighborhood to estimate what buyers would pay for your property. (A single sale does not make a market.)
Classification is a definition of how the property is used, determined by its ownership and use. Classifications such as residential, seasonal, commercial and agricultural describe the primary use of a property, and affect the amount of property tax paid. By state law, various classes of property are taxed at different rates. For example, two neighboring homes of equal value will be taxed at different rates if one is homestead and one is a non-homestead property. Class rates are created and defined by the Minnesota State Legislature. New homeowners should contact their
assessor to apply for the preferential homestead classification.
The assessor who values and classifies your property should be your first contact if you have questions or want more information. If you are not sure who your assessor is, call the Isanti County Assessor’s office at 763-689-2752. Your assessor can review your parcel records with you, review local sales activity, and general market trends. You can also review how other local properties are valued and classified to judge if your property is fairly valued and classified.
After meeting with your assessor to discuss your concerns there are three levels of appeal available. These must be completed in order, unless you choose to go directly to the Regular Division of Minnesota Tax Court.
1. City and Township Board of Review meet in April to review and rule upon appeals. They have the right to order changes on your value and classification. Call or write your city or township clerk to appear at the meeting.
2. If you are not satisfied with the Board of Review’s decision, you may appeal to the County Board of Equalization, which meets during the last two weeks of June. The Board of Equalization is made up of the County Board of Commissioners and County Auditor, who hear taxpayer appeals. To schedule an appeal, call the County Auditor at 763-689-1644.
3. If you are not satisfied with the County Board of Equalization’s decision, you may appeal to the Minnesota Tax Court. You have until March 31 of the year the tax is payable to appeal the valuation.
The Minnesota Tax Court has two divisions: the Small Claims Division, which hears appeals concerning homes (of any market value) or other types of property (of less than $100,000 in market value) that have already been heard by local Boards of Review and Boards of Equalization; and the Regular Division, which hears all kinds of appeals. The proceedings of the Small Claims Division are less formal, and people may represent themselves. The proceedings of the Regular Division conform to the Minnesota rules of civil procedure, causing most people to hire an attorney.
This program, administered by the Department of Revenue, provides for two types of refunds. The first is for homeowner/renters whose property taxes exceed a specified percentage of household income. The second program is for homestead properties where the property tax increase exceeds 12%, and said increase is $100 or more. Applications are due by August 15 to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
- Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral
This program allows people 65 years of age or older, whose household incomes are $60,000 or less, to defer a portion of their homestead property taxes. The deferred taxes accrue as a lien on the property and are due within 90 days after the property is sold, transferred, or no longer qualifies as a homestead. Applications are due by August 1 to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
- Seasonal Recreational Credit
This program provides for an income tax credit on seasonal properties where the property taxes have increased more than 10% and the amount of the increase is $100 or more. The credit equals 75% of the first $300 of tax increase in excess of 10 percent. Minnesota property owners may claim this credit on their income tax return in the year after the property tax was paid.
Homestead property owners who are legally blind, permanently and totally disabled, or paraplegic veteran's exclusion are eligible for a reduced tax rate on a portion of the value of their property. In some instances, there are income requirements that must be met to qualify. Contact your assessor for more information.
Homestead and non-homestead property may be eligible under this program for a maximum of 12 months of property tax credit where at least 50% of the structure(s) has been accidentally destroyed by fire or natural disaster. The credit is for the full calendar months that the property is not usable. Property owners should notify their assessor when the disaster occurs and then apply for the credit at the time they begin reuse of the property in Isanti County.
The 1997 Legislature defined agricultural property as:
- 10 acres actively farmed. The 10 acres can be tillable, pasture, or a combination of both.
- Products produced to be sold - not for your own use only.
Examples of products sold could be: corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, alfalfa, nursery stock, Christmas trees, livestock and vegetables.
If 10 acres or more are enrolled in a government agricultural program, they may also qualify. Examples of programs are: CRP, RIM, Registered Tree Farm, Pheasants Forever.
Example of activities that do not qualify for the agricultural classification are: pasturing of family pleasure horses, selling firewood, land left idle, trees planted with no care or maintenance, wild duck ponds, dog kennels.
The Legislature intended the agricultural classification for farmers. Farmers annually put themselves at risk financially by investing in a crop they put in the ground or in livestock they raise to be sold later. The class was not intended for people who engage in agricultural activity as a hobby and not as their main source of family income.
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