Frequently Asked Questions
- What type of appeals may be brought before the board?
The Board's jurisdiction involves appeals of Assessor determinations including:
- Change in real and personal property values* [RCW 84.48.010]
- Denials of senior citizen/disabled persons exemptions [RCW 84.36.385]
- Denials of home improvement exemptions [RCW 84.36.400]
- Decisions regarding historic property exemption [RCW 84.26.130]
- Forest land classification determinations [RCW 84.33]
- Current use designation determinations [RCW 84.34]
- Destroyed property determinations [RCW 84.70.010]
- Claims for either real or personal property tax exemptions [RCW 84.36.010]
*There is no provision in state law to directly appeal the amount of your property taxes.
- How do I appeal?
File an original, completed petition form with the Clerk of the Board. Submit separate petitions for each parcel. There is no charge for filing an appeal. A petition form is available on the BOE web page, by calling 360-679-7379 or by email BOE@islandcountywa.gov.
- When must I appeal?
Petitions must be received by the Clerk of the Board on or before July 1 of the assessment year* or within 30 calendar days after the date of the Value Change Notice (or other notice of determination) - whichever date is later (WAC 458-14-056(2)). If submitted by mail, petitions must be postmarked by the post office no later than the filing deadline (WAC 458-14-056(4)).
*Assessment year is the year before the tax is due. It is shown on the Value Change Notice. Under very limited conditions, late petitions or appeals for previous assessment years may be accepted (WAC 458-14-056; 458-14-127).
- What information is required to file an appeal?
The Board cannot consider incomplete petitions. A complete, separate petition for each parcel must include the following information:
- Assessor's parcel number
- Taxpayer name and address
- Taxpayer's representative, if applicable (must include power of attorney)
- Property description to include property address, parcel size, zoning, and general building information
- Value as listed by the Assessor
- Your opinion of the value
- Specific reasons why you believe the Assessor's value does not reflect the true and fair market value of your property. Your petition must include sufficient information or statements to apprise the Board and the Assessor of the reasons why you believe the Assessor's determination is incorrect. Matters unrelated to market value such as assessment comparisons of other properties, percentage of value increases, personal hardship, amount of tax, etc., cannot be considered (WAC 458-14-056(5))
- Taxpayer's signature and date
- A copy of the Assessor's Value Change Notice or other determination notice
- What types of evidence should I provide?
Remember, the issue before the Board is the market value of your property. Accordingly, you will need to furnish clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that demonstrates that the Assessor's valuation exceeds your property's fair market value. State law requires the Assessor to value all taxable property at 100% of its true and fair market value in money, according to the highest and best use of the property. Market value is the amount of money that a willing and unobligated buyer is willing to pay a willing and unobligated seller.
Successful forms of evidence include:
- Comparable sales and/or sales of the subject property
- Contractor estimates of costs to repair building or land defects
- Letters or documents from government agencies and/or experts regarding development limitations
- Deeds describing easements that impact value
- Independent appraisals
- Photographs of features or conditions you believe diminish your property's market value
- Maps showing proximity to high traffic areas, access limitations, etc.
When gathering evidence and formulating arguments, it is important to keep in mind that, by law, the Assessor is presumed to be correct. The burden of proof is on you to show that the Assessor's determination is incorrect. Evidence must be "clear, cogent, and convincing" (WAC 458-14-046(4)).
- Why should I include comparable sales and how do I find them?
Sales of the subject property and/or comparable properties are the foundation of our state's market value standard. Accordingly, comparable sales typically provide the best indicators of market value [RCW 84.40.030]. This is particularly true for residential properties. The best comparables are sales located in your neighborhood, with similar land and improvement features, which sold close to the valuation date at issue (before and not after). The Assessor's website, realtors, and title companies may be resources. A typical comparison or appraisal will have three or more comparable sales.
- What is meant by the valuation date?
According to state law, the Assessor must base assessed valuations as of Jan. 1 of each assessment year. For example, if you are appealing a 2023 assessment year valuation, for taxes payable in 2024, the assessment date is Jan. 1, 2023. From a market value standpoint, the board gives sales occurring closest to this date the most weight (WAC 458-14-087(3)).
- What if there are no sales comparable to my property?
Comparable properties do not have to exactly match your property. Look for sales that are most similar, note their differences, and identify superior and inferior property features. This comparison process should enable you to determine whether your property would sell for more than or less than the price paid for each selected sale, leading you to a market value estimate.
- What if I don't have time to gather all the evidence by the petition deadline?
For the purposes of filing a timely appeal, as long as your petition includes sufficient information or statements to apprise the Board and the Assessor of the reasons why you believe the Assessor's determination is incorrect, it is not necessary to include all the evidence you intend to use at your hearing. It is recommended that you provide the evidence you will use as early as possible. Additional evidence may be submitted up to twenty-one business days before your hearing (WAC 458-14-056(5)).
- When will I have a hearing?
The scheduling of your hearing will depend on the volume of appeals and the timing of your petition filing. All scheduling is done by the Clerk of The Board. An Assessor's representative will review your petition and may contact you at your daytime phone number to discuss a stipulation outside of your appeal. Additionally, you may initiate contact with the Assessor's representative at the number listed on your "Assessor's Notice of Real Property Value Change" form to discuss the determined value.
If you can reach agreement on the true and fair value of the property, you will be offered a Stipulated Agreement form to sign that establishes the new value and withdraws the petition. In this case, you will not have a board hearing. However, if you cannot come to an agreement with the Assessor's representative, then you will be scheduled for a hearing before the Board. You will be notified by mail of your hearing date approximately 50 days in advance. The time between filing your appeal and the scheduled hearing may take between 5 and 7 months.
- What can I expect at the hearing?
The hearing is an informal review where property owners may represent themselves without having to pay someone to argue their case. You will have the opportunity to give oral testimony and review your previously submitted arguments and evidence. During some board hearings, an Assessor's representative may also give testimony and review the material previously submitted to you and the board. Each party will have the opportunity to rebut the other party's arguments and evidence. Board members may also question either you and/or the Assessor's representative.
- May I submit additional information at the hearing?
Documentary evidence (comparable sales, appraisals, contractor estimates, pictures, site plans, maps, etc.) must be submitted to the Board at least 21 business days before the hearing. Narrative testimony or videos used to clarify your previously submitted evidence may be presented during the hearing.
- When will I receive a decision?
Decisions are typically mailed within 14 days of the hearing.
- What if I am not satisfied with the Board's decision?
Either the appellant or the Assessor may appeal the Board's decision to the State Board of Tax Appeals. An appeal must be filed with the State Board of Tax Appeals within 30 calendar days of the mailing date of our board's decision. Appeal forms are available on the Island County BOE or State Board of Tax Appeals websites.
- What if my taxes are due before I have a hearing or receive a decision?
It is important to pay your taxes by the deadline in order to avoid interest and penalties.
- If the board decreases the value of my property, how will that affect my taxes?
If the Board decreases your property value, the Assessor's records will be adjusted, and the Treasurer's office will either send a revised tax statement if the decision occurs before October 31 of the tax year or issue a refund if your full year's taxes have already been paid (WAC 458-14-116(3)). This process may take a few months to complete.