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How does the commercial property tax appeals process work?

If you own a commercial property in St. Louis County, your building’s valuation may have risen with the recent assessments. While this indicates an increasing value in real estate investments, it may also signify higher property taxes.

Due to a large amount of real estate in a given county, the government uses a Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) to assess property and decide real estate taxes. Without CAMA, St. Louis County states the 400,000 properties in the county would take ten years to assess. While the system allows for more properties to be looked at in a timelier manner, it also creates additional problems. For example, many property owners disagree with the valuations provided by CAMA.

When are the appeal deadlines?

If you appealed the valuation of your commercial real estate, you first had the opportunity to schedule an informal meeting with the assessor’s office by June 21.

Then, if unsatisfied with that decision, you might have gone to the Board of Equalization (BOE) and filed an appeal by July 8. The BOE is governed by the Missouri Constitution and meets with concerned citizens to discuss property assessments.

The board only has from the second Monday in July until the last Saturday in August to hear appeals and confirm or reject the assessor’s decision. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, the Board of Equalization expects to hear about 25,000 appeals this year. This works out to about 500-600 cases heard in one day.  Some cases will be resolved while meeting with an appraiser and a hearing officer.  While the board rules on every case, it could be through a hearing or based on the evidence in the file.

Once the board has reached a decision, you have 30 days or until September 30 to file an appeal to the State Tax Commission of Missouri, whichever is later.

The next step in appealing

The State Tax Commission is the next step in seeking a lower value.  It is more formal and an appraisal will be required prior to a hearing.  If you disagree with the commission’s decision, you may be frustrated and deflated from the long process you went through only to receive a decision you dislike. However, you should remember even the State Tax Commission of Missouri’s decision is not set in stone and can be challenged with the right legal guidance.

Your best opportunity is to resolve the value at the Board of Equalization.  It is generally the least expense of the hearings and if a resolution is achieved you will take advantage of the lower value, and therefore the lower taxes, before they are due December 31.

 

 

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