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Property Assessments - Protesting and Appealing Adverse Decisions

As a property owner, and taxpayer, you just received an assessment notice from your County Assessor (or City Assessor, if applicable) as to the current assessed value of your real estate.

Do you think the assessed value as established by your County Assessor is fair when compared to other like properties?

If not, you have until May 5th (this year the deadline is extending one day until Monday May 6, 2013)to file a written protest. You also have the right to request an oral hearing before a local Board of Review to voice your protest.

Arguing that the value assessed is greater than that assessed on other similar properties is one basis for protesting your valuation. Iowa law provides additional grounds for protest. These include: 1) that the property’s valuation is inequitable when compared to the assessed value of similar property, 2) that the assessment is greater than the property’s “actual value,” 3) the property being assessed is exempt from taxation, 4) a miscalculation or error was made in the assessment of value, 5) the property has been misclassified by the Assessor and/or 4) that is fraud was involved in the assessment.

Should you protest but not prevail before the local Board of Review, the law entitles you to appeal the Board’s valuation decision to either the Property Assessment Appeal Board or the Iowa District Court. In the event you do appeal , the burden remains on you, the property owner, to prove the grounds on which of you initiated your assessment protest.

New evidence as to valuation may be presented on appeal; but only evidence relating to the grounds of protest first asserted to the local Board of Review. No new grounds for protesting value can be made for the first time on appeal.   

At the same time, how the Iowa District Court reviews the case depends on whether you appeal the decision of the local Board of Review directly to the Court or you first appeal to the Property Assessment Appeal Board. Should you appeal the local decision directly to the Court, the evidence as to value is considered anew. However, if you appeal to the Court after getting an adverse decision from the Property Assessment Appeal Board, the Iowa District Court’s review is limited to correcting any errors of law.    

In the end, a successful protest requires you to present pursuasive evidence that proves your chosen grounds of protest by a preponderance of the evidence. In most instances, that requires identifying comparable properties, conducting market value research, assembling all relevant information/evidence and reducing the material to written protest prior to the May 6, 2013 deadline. Further, if you are protesting an assessment of an income producing property the Board of Review expects being presented with Profit and Loss Statements (or similar financial evidence) for the past three (3) years to consider valuation based on an income approach.

There is no ability to extend this year’s May 6th protest deadline. It is set in stone. Note: If your property is in an area designated as a disaster area the deadline is extended

If you are seriously considering filing a protest of your just received assessment consider retaining a qualified professional representative to spearhead your cause. I have been a real estate attorney for 23 years, a real estate salesperson for 11 years and a property manager for 25 years. Put this experience to work for you in protest of your assessment. Contact me should you desire a free one-half hour consultation.

It is often said in the world of real estate that, “time is of the essence.”  That statement could not be more accurate if you are contemplating a timely protest of your recent property assessment.   

Daniel B. Connolly J.D.

Connolly Law Firm, P.L.L.C.

Telephone: (515) 331-1301

Facsimile: (515) 252-1739





By Dan Connolly -

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