Frequently Asked Questions from
the Assessor's Office.
I signed up for Homestead and/or
Military credit last year. Why isnít it on my taxes? Do I need to sign again?
It will depend on when you signed the application. Applications must be signed
on or before July 1st of the assessment year that you are first claiming the
credit. If it is signed after July 1st, the credit is applied to the next
Please remember that property taxes due are 18
months behind the current assessment year. Example, the current property taxes
payable in September 2013 and March 2014 are calculated on the 2012 assessment
year and values. If you signed up after July 1, 2012, but on or before July 1,
2013, your credit will be applied to the 2013 assessments on which the taxes
will be calculated for the September 2014 and March 2015 payments. If you signed
up after July 1, 2013, your credit will be applied to the 2014 assessments,
which will be used to for the September 2015 and March 2016 property taxes.
Homestead and military credits were at one time applied for every year. In the
mid 1980ís, this was changed to a one-time sign up. However, you do still have
to sign up if you move to another house, even if it is next door or across the
Doesn't the Assessor raise my value according to the amount of taxes
No, the Assessor raises or lowers the values of property according to the market
value of real estate or in the case of agricultural land, according to
productivity and CSR.
Assessments are set January 1st of each year, while the tax levies (tax rates)
on these assessments are not set until July of the following year. (Example, the
assessment notices from April 2013 were for the January 1, 2013 assessment. Tax
levies for these values will be set in June of 2014 based on what the different
taxing authorities budget in March and April 2014 for the next fiscal year of
July 2014 - June 2015.)
The taxing authorities you pay property taxes to are listed at the bottom of
your tax statement each year, along with their budget information and a
breakdown of how much you are paying to each taxing body.
I disagree with my value. What can I do?
I would first recommend either looking at your property information on our
Marion County Assessor website (
http://beacon.schneidercorp.com/?site=MarionCountyIA ), or contacting our office, to see if we have
everything listed correctly for your property. We will gladly provide a printout
on your dwelling and/or buildings and explain how your value was determined. The
Marion County Assessor's Beacon website is also a good place to find out how
other comparable properties have sold.
If you still disagree with your value, there is an "Informal Agreement" period
between April 2nd and April 25th. This process would involve a field appraiser
coming out to look at your property to see if the value could possibly be
adjusted so a formal protest with the Board of Review could be avoided. If an
agreed upon value is reached, the Informal Agreement is signed by the aggrieved
taxpayer and the value is changed for the current assessment year. This is
merely an option; you may choose to go directly to the Board of Review with a
timely filed, formal protest.
If no agreement can be made, or if you choose not to go this route, you may file
a petition with the Marion County Board of Review. Petitions are available in
the Assessor's Office or online at the county's web site or the Iowa Department
of Revenue's web site. Petitions must be filed within the timeframe provided by
the Code of Iowa. This is currently April 2nd to April 30th of any given year.
The petitions are filed in the Assessor's Office.
The Board of Review will meet during the month of May. You may decide to
have an oral hearing before the Board, or only decide to file your petition and
submit any information you think is relevant to your petition. The Board
will notify you by mail of their decision.
If you disagree with their decision, you may appeal within 20 days of the
Board's adjournment, or May 31st, whichever is later. This date is usually
May 31st. You may appeal to either the
Property Assessment Appeal Board, or to Marion County District Court.
I paid xxxxx dollars for my house. Why isn't it assessed for that?
With the exception of agricultural land, real estate is assessed at current
market value. The current market value for assessments are established
every odd numbered year and based on actual sales from the previous year.
The Assessor's Office looks at all arms-length sales in the County, in a
particular town, and of a certain building style to determine assessment for a
number of properties at once.
An individual property may sell higher or lower than the assessed value for a
number of reasons. There may have been a change in the property since our
office last inspected the property. The change could have been something
that would raise or lower the value.
These changes could include such things as a new garage or addition, a deck, new
siding or windows, a garage or deck removed, or the overall condition of the
dwelling has depreciated beyond what it would normally. Sometimes, one may
be willing to pay more for a specific feature in a particular property, or the
seller may be willing to sell it for less to reduce their worries and
maintenance costs. There are also characteristics of a property which may
affect the market value, but are not assessed, such as landscaping or personal
property included in the sale.
The assessed value of my house should be less than what I would sell it
Assessed values are to be at 100% fair market value. Your assessment
should be near what you could expect to sell it for in the current market.
As stated above, there could be a number of factors that would affect your sale
price compared to your assessed value.
Why did my assessed value change from my odd numbered year assessment
notice (2007) to what is listed on the website for 2007 valuation, or on my tax
receipt payable for September 2008 and March 2009?
This was due to an Equalization order from the Iowa Department of Revenue
(IDOR). The order was for a 6% increase to all residential property,
including dwellings on agricultural property. This means that the
Assessor's valuation in April of 2007 was 6% too low, according to the IDOR
analysis. There is a possibility of equalization orders every odd numbered
Odd numbered years are reassessment years, and possibly state equalization
years, as established by the Code of Iowa. This means that the Assessor's
office reviews all sales of property and compares the sale price with the
assessed value at the time of the sale. This sales analysis is done at the
start of the year. Notices of the new assessment are mailed to property
owners by April 15th.
The Board of Review considers filed petitions during the month of May.
After the Board of Review is finished, the Assessor then compiles, and submits
to the Iowa Department of Revenue, an abstract of assessment and reconciliation
report. This abstract report shows the valuation for the County by
classification and location. The reconciliation report shows the reason
for overall changes in valuation from the previous year. These include
revaluation, new construction, building removal, change in classification, or
After receiving the valuation abstract and reconciliation report, the Department
of Revenue performs their own sales analysis, determines the valuation for the
year by adjusting the previous year's valuation report, and then compares their
results to the current year's valuation report received from the County.
If the total value for each class is within +/- 5%, no equalization orders would
be determined to be needed. If the percentage difference is over or under
5% for a particular class of property, even if it's 5.1%, the Department of
Revenue would issue an equalization order of 5%, or more, to the County for that
class of property.
What are the Elderly and Disabled Tax Credit? How do I
This tax credit is an additional Homestead
Credit. Eligibility requirements include: must be 65 or older, or totally
disabled, and meet the household income requirements. You should contact the
County Treasurer to find out the income requirements as they change each year.
Applications and more information are available in the County
Treasurerís Office. Applications must be filed by June 1st with the County
Treasurerís Office. This credit application must be filed every year.
What is Rent Reimbursement?
This is similar to
the Elderly and Disabled Credit, except this is for people who rent their home.
Eligibility requirements are the same: must be 65 or older, or totally disabled,
and meet the current household income requirements.
To access the
current Rent Reimbursement instructions and requirements, blank reimbursement
forms, and reimbursement forms that can be filled out online, please click on
the following link
that takes you to
the Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance Property Tax Forms page.
Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance - Rent Reimbursement
These applications are also available in the County Assessorís Office after
January 15th of a given year. The application must then be sent to the Iowa
Department of Revenue by June 1st by the claimant. This must be applied for
I own and farm 500 acres. Isnít there something I need to sign up for
You are probably thinking of the Family Farm Tax
Credit. This was required to be signed up every year by October 15th until 2001.
If you signed up in 2001 or after, you do not have to sign again. However, if
you have acquired more agricultural land after you last signed up, you will need
to sign an application for the newly acquired land. Applications can be filed
anytime. However, those filed after November 1st will be applied to the next
I signed up for Forest Reserve. Do I have to sign up every year?
No, this is a one-time sign up and need not be applied for again. The property
will be checked periodically to verify that it continues to meet the program
requirements and continues to qualify.
What is Forest Reserve exemption?
reserve exemption was enacted by the legislature to promote the need to keep
timber areas in the state. To be eligible, the property must be at least 2 acres
and contain at least 200 growing trees per acre. If any buildings are within the
area claimed for exemption, one acre for the building site will remain taxable.
Livestock is not allowed on the property. This includes cattle,
horses, mules, sheep, goats, or hogs. The property would not qualify, or would
cease to receive the benefit of the exemption. It may also be subject to a
There can be no economic gain on the property
claimed for exemption other than raising trees. Up to one fifth of the trees may
be removed as long as the total trees per acre does not go below the required
200, or enough trees are re-planted to stay above this. The receipt of
compensation from the federal government is not acceptable economic gain for
forest reserve exempted property. The property would not be eligible or would
cease to receive the exemption if other economic gain is being received. It may
also be subject to recapture tax.
If a property ceases to be
eligible, it shall be assessed for taxation and subject to the recapture tax.
The property shall be subject to taxation for the current year. In addition, the
property is subject to taxation for each of the five preceding calendar years
for which it was exempted. However, if the same person, or their direct
descendents or antecedents, have owned the property exempted for at least 10
years, it shall not be subject to recapture tax.
A problem might occur when a property is for sale that has some
forest reserve exempted ground, which would cause the buyer to pay the recapture
tax. If the buyer is unaware that some of the ground is in exemption, they might
decide to clear the trees. If they do, the exemption would cease and they would
be responsible for the recapture tax. Our office suggests, if the buyer is
unsure if they want to keep the forest reserve exemption or not aware of the
exemption, that the seller sign a statement requesting that the exemption be
removed. The new owner can sign a new application if they wish it to remain in
the forest reserve exemption.
My house is in the country and I have 7 acres. Why arenít I classed as
Iowa legislators have enacted statutes
that determine how a property is classed and assessed. Current statutes state
that a property is to be classed according to its current and primary use. A
propertyís location or zoning does not determine classification for assessment.
Agricultural real estate includes woodland, wasteland, and pastureland, but only
if held in conjunction with other agricultural real estate.
A house on x number of acres with the primary use of the property is to live
there, will be classed as residential. This would include properties with an out
building, which might have a horse or two, or a couple of cows, or mow a couple
acres to sell hay bales. These uses would be incidental to the primary use of
the property as a residence.
Agricultural classification of small parcels is appropriate when they are the
site of an intensive livestock use which demonstrates intended agricultural
profit. Agricultural classification is also appropriate when they are adjacent
to and operated as part of a larger farming operation.
This would differ from a house on 40 acres with 30 acres of
cropland and 200 hogs. Even though the house is their primary residence, the
primary use of the overall property is agricultural.
My building that I use as a repair shop is in a residential area and
zoned as residential. Why is it classed as commercial?
building being used as a business will be classed as commercial, even though it
may be in a residential area or zoned residential. Again, it depends on the
primary use of the property.
If a property has a building being
used as a repair shop business, and there isnít a house, this will be classed as
commercial. However, if they discontinue the business and use the property for
personal storage or use, then it could be re-classed as residential.
A house would be classed as commercial if used primarily for
business purposes, or has 3 or more apartments. However, if someone is using a
room or two in the house for a business, i.e. beauty shop, insurance office,
etc., and lives the rest of the house, this would be classed as residential.
The only time location and zoning may help determine classification is
when there is a vacant lot, which isnít owned by an adjoining or adjacent
I served in the
military. Am I eligible for the Military Service Property Tax Exemption?
There have been a number of changes by the Legislature in recent years that have expanded the eligibility for the Military Exemption on property taxes. Individuals that may not have been eligible in the past may qualify now. Click here for additional detail information.