Municipal Property Tax: Important Dates and Information

The following information pertains to Municipality of Anchorage Real Property Taxes. “Real Property” is defined by the Municipality as “land and improvements to land, such as; buildings, structures and fixtures of any kind thereon”.  To Oceanview homeowners, this means our house, along with any improvements and the lot it sits on.

No later than January 15th: The Municipal Assessor’s Office mails out Real Property Valuation notices to homeowners no later than this date.  Notification comes in the form of a green postcard that will have the MOA’s determination of your land value and building value as of January 1.  These numbers are totalled to determine the assessed value upon which your property taxes will be based.  Since this is “public information”, the MOA makes no effort to hide the card in an envelope.  The card will also have the deadline date by which you must file any appeal.  The deadline is 30 days after the card mailing date.

Keep in mind that your assessed value is the MOA’s estimate of your home’s market value.  What is market value?  As a Realtor, I can tell you that it boils down to what that pool of buyers out there is willing to pay for your home.  That number can change on a quarterly basis, which is why the MOA uses January 1 as their market value date.  Bottom line, the MOA has a very difficult task.  With a limited staff of a couple dozen appraisers and over ninety thousand of property parcels that must be assessed each year, it’s a highly computerized process with some human oversight.  They are further inhibited by limited sales information since Alaska is a “non-disclosure state”.  There is no legal requirement for you to report the sales price of your home, so most people don’t.  The municipal goal is to do a “site visit” every six years to keep up with any external changes to your home.  At the very least, this amounts to a review of satellite photos, and a drive by with photos to see if you added a new deck, garage or other taxable improvement.

Click here on or after January 15, 2016 to see your 2016 Public Inquiry Parcel Details and assessed valuation.  Just type in your address.  Once there, be sure to click on the “Comparable Sales” tab to see the five comps they used to value your home for 2016.  If you significantly disagree with your valuation and wish to discuss it, the MOA suggests that you visit the Assessor’s Office at 632 W. 6th Ave, Suite 330 or call 343-6770 as soon as you can prior to the appeal filing deadline.  Remember, that deadline is 30 days after your card was mailed.  Walk in and go to the counter with specific information as to why you disagree and what you think the value should be.  If you’ve purchased the home at a lower price within the last six months and have the sale’s appraisal report with a lower price, you should have a strong argument.  If the MOA property improvement data is wrong, have some proof.  In other words, this is an informal appeal, but be informed and prepared to show why you disagree.  They are equipped to review and adjust values, if warranted.  I’ve walked in twice in the past ten years and successfully obtained a downward value adjustment.  The third time I was denied and filed an appeal.  Read about it below.

30 Days Later:  Approximately February 13 to 15th.  Verify this date on your “green card”:  This is the appeal filing deadline.  In other words, if you were unsuccessful with your informal walk-in appeal and wish to file a formal appeal, you must do it by this date.  It must be in writing on the Board of Equalization’s approved form along with a check for the filing deposit.  My personal opinion, based on my personal experience, is that this can be a time-consuming and frustrating process… be prepared.  A couple of notes if you do file for appeal: 1. Show up early for the hearing!  The Board hears appeals in the order of your arrival.  I filed an appeal several years ago because the MOA had raised my property’s assessed value 45% over the previous three years.  I arrived on time for my hearing, but I had to sit through four hours of appeals (averaging 30 minutes each) before my appeal was heard.  The other folks had arrived before me, so I heard their appeals and got a bit of an education.  All of their appeals were denied but one.  The one that resulted in a reduction in value was for an elderly couple whose basement had been flooded and was deemed unlivable.  My appeal was denied as well.  2. Know what you’re doing!  I had come prepared with an abundance of comparable sales information but learned during my hearing that due to the Municipal “Improvement Data Grade” on my home, only comps with a grade of A- or better were acceptable to the Board.  I subsequently learned that on the MOA Public Inquiry Parcel Details description, my house had an Improvement Data Grade of “Very Good”.  Per the Board, that equaled an A- and most of my comps were B+’s, therefore useless.  The MOA uses Excellent, Very Good, Good, Average, etc., for their Improvement Data Grades.  The equivalent school grade usage may have been limited to that particular board, since I have not been able to find it explained in writing anywhere.  Regardless, these grades are assigned by the MOA at time of construction.  They apparently remain unchanged, regardless of how dated your home might currently be.  You could challenge your assigned grade…..but plan on more work, and calling or visiting the Assessor’s Office for more information.  It might result in one of the MOA appraisers conducting a walk-through of your home’s interior, in your presence, with your authorization.

March 15th:  This is the Owner Occupied Residential, Senior Citizen and/or Disabled Veteran Exemption filing deadline.  Click here to read more about the Residential Property Tax Exemption and how to save $300/year on your tax bill if you haven’t already applied.   Click here to read more about all of the Municipal Property Tax Exemptions.

May 15th:  Real Property Tax Bills are mailed out.  It takes this long to get your bill because the municipal budget has to be approved and the majority of tax valuation appeals completed in order for the MOA to determine the tax mill rate.  In 2015, in Oceanview, the mill rate was $14.70 per $1,000 valuation.  The 2016 mill rate will likely be a little more, and our property values are likely to be higher.  Click here to see the 2015 Mill Rate Chart.  Oceanview residents live in tax district #3.  If you live somewhere else, your tax district # will appear in the top part of your home’s Public Inquiry Parcel Details sheet obtained via the 1st link in this article above.

The majority of homeowners have a mortgage on their property with a lender required reserve account into which a portion of the monthly mortgage payment is deposited and held for annual property tax and homeowner’s insurance payments by the lender.  If this is your case, your lender will pay the bill from your reserve account.  Your only responsibility is to verify proper and timely payment.  In any other case, you must pay by the dates below.

June 15th: 1st Half Real Property Tax installment due.

August 15th: 2nd Half Real Property Tax installment due.

Click here to go to the MOA Property Appraisal website.

This entry was posted in Anchorage Area Real Estate, Oceanview, Property Taxes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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