September 29, 2009
APPEALING PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS
By: John Rappa, Principal Analyst
You asked us to describe the process for appealing property tax assessments.
DEADLINES FOR FILING, HEARING, AND DECIDING APPEALS
Under the law, anyone aggrieved by a property tax assessor's actions can appeal those actions to the town's board of assessment appeals (CGS § 12-111). The aggrieved person must do so in writing by February 20. The written appeal must include, among other things, the person's name, a description of the property, the reasons for the appeal, and the person's estimate of the property's value.
The board must hold a hearing on any appeal except those for commercial, industrial, utility, or apartment properties assessed at over $1 million (CGS § 12-111, as amended by PA 09-196). In cases where the board must hold a hearing or chooses to hold one, it must:
1. notify the appellant of the hearing's date, time, and place by March 1;
2. hold the hearing in March; and
3. decide the appeal by the last business day of March.
If the board chooses not to hold a hearing on business or apartment property assessed at over $1 million, it must notify the appellant about its decision by March 1. An Appellant can appeal the board's decision directly to Superior Court (CGS § 12-111, as amended by PA 09-196).
The timeframe for hearing appeals can be extended by the town's chief elected official (CEO) if the assessors and the board need more time to complete their work. The length of the extension depends on whether the town completed a revaluation. If it did, the CEO can extend the timeframe for up to two months. Otherwise, he or she can extend the period for up to one month. In either case, the extension pushes back the deadline for requesting a hearing to March 20. The CEO must notify the Office of Policy and Management about the extension within two weeks of granting it (CGS § 12-117 and § 12-111).
The law allows the board to increase or decrease the assessment on any taxable property or any interest in it (CGS § 12-111). But the board can reduce the assessment only if:
1. the appellant or his or her attorney or agent appears at the hearing and agrees to be sworn before the board and answers all questions regarding the property and
2. it records the reduction in the minutes of the board's meeting (CGS § 12-113).
If the board increases or decreases the assessment, the law freezes the new value until the next time the town revalues property (CGS § 12-111), which all towns must do at least once every five years. But the assessor can change the board's assessment to comply with a court order, correct an error, or reflect a change in the property's physical characteristics (e.g., addition of a new room, demolition of an existing room, or damage caused by a storm). He or she may change the assessment for other reasons before the next revaluation, but the law requires him or her to explain to the board in writing the reasons for doing so and append them to the property's record card (CGS § 12-111).
APPEALS TO SUPERIOR COURT
The appellant can appeal the board's action to the Superior Court for the judicial district where the property is located, but the appeal does not suspend any action the town is taking to collect up to 75% of the tax owed on the property (90% for property assessed at $500,000 or more).
Table 1 outlines the appeals process.
Table 1: Assessment Appeals Deadlines
Assessors complete and sign grand list
Assessors must notify owners whose assessment was increased
Within 10 days of completing grand list
Property owners who want to appeal their assessments must file a written appeal with the board of assessment appeals
Appeals board notifies owners about the date, place, and time of the hearing on the appeal
Board hears and decides appeals
March 1—March 31