Oct 4, 2021 - Real Estate

Polk County property tax protesters score record win

Illustration of a stack of money being thrown at a basketball hoop

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Property values worth more than $300 million were wiped off Polk County's tax rolls after owners challenged this year's assessments, according to a recent county assessor's report.

Why it matters: The records show it's the biggest rollback in the county's history. Residents and business owners will now pay less in annual property taxes, some by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • But it also means less revenue for local governments to pay for things like schools, streets and sewers.

💵 Be smart: Biannual assessments are one of the main factors that determine how much property tax you pay.

  • The higher the assessed value, the more taxes you owe.

The intrigue: Owners of 5,130 Polk County properties contested this year's assessments, down more than 40% from 7,893 in 2019.

  • There were fewer protests this year because the housing market is hot and many owners saw less reason to disagree with their new assessment, Paul Humble, the county's deputy assessor, told us.

Plus: Certain types of properties were hit harder by the pandemic, driving many of the successful protests.

  • Residential values, for example, increased roughly 8%, but some commercial properties like bars, hotels and restaurants dropped around 30%.

By the numbers: Just over 38% of protests were successful this year, compared with almost 52% in 2019.

  • Those who prevailed shaved an average of more than $156,000 from their assessed value.

The big picture: Polk accounted for more than half of the nearly $588 million of assessment values that were decreased statewide this year following protests, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue.

  • Kossuth County had the second most, with a decrease of $36 million.
  • But Polk's market is larger and stronger, which tends to generate substantially more protests, Humble said.
  • This year's discounts amounted to around .6% of the county's total assessed value, which is now around $52.1 billion.

Want to protest your assessment?


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