Despite the crush of the COVID-19 pandemic, April 2021 brings a shower of increased property tax assessments for Iowa businesses. Now is the time to analyze and consider challenging excessive values.
Iowa’s commercial property tax assessments are rising. Months after the onset of the worst global health crises in more than a century, the Polk County Assessor proclaimed (as quoted by a local television station), “The pandemic hasn’t had much of an effect on property values at all with the exception of hospitality and restaurants and bars.” As a result, most commercial property values in Iowa’s state capital have increased by about 9%. As further reported, the assessor has noted “this is really good news for local governments” — overlooking the bad news this represents for numerous struggling taxpayers hit hard by the economic downturn. Similarly, the Scott County Assessor advised, “The average county-wide commercial and industrial property increase is about 6.5%.” Reports indicate a similar increase for commercial properties in Sioux City.
The assessment date in Iowa is January 1, 2021. Assessors are required to consider the market value of property as of that date, including how shutdowns and sheltering-in-place mandates due to COVID-19 may have hurt commercial values. Nevertheless, assessment values are rising for many commercial property owners.
As of April 1, assessors across Iowa have released their new property tax assessment values. This started the clock for negotiations. From April 2 until April 25, aggrieved taxpayers may contact local assessors and make an informal request that the assessment be changed. This can result in a written agreement with the assessor to correct or modify the assessment, or an agreement by the assessor to file a recommendation with the local board of review that the assessment be changed.
Here is a brief overview of the Iowa appeal deadlines:
- January 1 — Assessment date (Iowa Code § 441.46)
- April 1 — Assessors release assessment values (Iowa Code § 441.23)
- April 2–25 — Time to negotiate with assessors (Iowa Code § 441.30)
- April 30 — Iowa Board of Review protests due (Iowa Code § 441.37)
- Later date of May 31 or 20 days after board of review opinion — Deadline to file appeal with the Iowa Property Assessment Appeal Board or district court (Iowa Code §§ 441.37A, 441.37B, 441.38)
Economic activity slowed to a crawl throughout 2020 under the strains of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 assessments must reflect that negative impact on value. Any taxpayer concerned with a new, higher assessed value — and the heavier tax burden that will follow — should consider engaging in negotiations now and potential appeals in the upcoming weeks.