After months of questions and discussion, Roanoke County officials announced Thursday that a report has concluded incorrect sale prices in the county’s GIS system did not impact real estate taxes and county assessment values are not inflated.
A report from the Virginia Department of Taxation, released to the public Thursday afternoon, shows the erroneous figures did not result in overcharging residents on their taxes.
Annie McCallum of The Roanoke Times has more on this story here.
Here’s a link to the PDF copy of the report:PDF Copy of Report 7.18.12
Below is the full statement from Roanoke County officials:
— At the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors meeting on May 22, 2012, the Board asked County Administrator Clay Goodman to bring in an outside agency to evaluate how property assessments are completed by the County. The Virginia Department of Taxation agreed to conduct the evaluation and shared its findings with the County Administrator this week.
The findings and conclusions by the state are included in a 25 page report that was sent to Roanoke County this week. In summary, the analysis by the Virginia Department of Taxation review team found that Roanoke County’s real estate assessments are fair and equitable and that values are not inflated.
The request for an outside audit was in response to concerns raised by some citizens and realtors regarding property sales information displayed on the Roanoke County website. In some instances, the sales price listed under the “WebPro” system on Roanoke County’s real estate webpage was not the actual sales price paid for the property but rather the County’s tax assessed value. Some citizens have questioned why the information appeared incorrect and if new real estate tax assessments were inflated as a result of the inaccuracy.
A team from the Virginia Department of Taxation visited Roanoke County over a two day period in early June and reviewed 31 examples of sales data from 2011. In the instances where the sales price was below the assessed value, the assessed price was listed as the sales price on “WebPro.” The team found that the sales price listed on WebPro was the value used when computing the grantor’s or recordation tax, which is the tax recorded and collected by the Roanoke County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office when someone purchases a piece of property. Under state code, the grantor’s tax is calculated using whichever number is the higher of the two – either the actual sales price or the assessed value.
The state review noted that WebPro was implemented on the County website in 2011 and that the public has come to rely on the sales data information provided online to be consistent. The review team further noted that the County has developed a computer program to correct the problem, so that the information reflected online will represent the actual sales price paid in all future instances. The review also noted that the County has developed a system to correct past instances where the price paid for a property was incorrectly listed.
While the incorrect sales price listed on the website has been a source of confusion to some people, the review team concluded that the information displayed on WebPro was not the data that the Roanoke County Real Estate Assessors used to compute new assessment values and that assessments were not inflated. The review concluded that Roanoke County’s Real Estate Assessors were aware that a sales price discrepancy could occur and had developed a “work around to ensure” that the actual sales price paid was the number used in the real estate assessment process.
The report also concluded that the County’s real estate assessments are not inflated. The report noted the following:
“An analysis of recent Department of Taxation Assessment Ratio Studies does not support the reported perception that real estate assessment values are inflated. To the contrary, recent assessment levels have been below the target 100% of fair market value, and in some years, below the lower-range standard of 90% established by the International Association of Assessing Officers. Critical measures of uniformity and equity have been exceptionally good, indicating a fair and equitable distribution of the real estate tax burden.”
There are more than 45,000 parcels in Roanoke County. In 2011, the County had 635 property sales. If a Roanoke County citizen feels that their assessment is inaccurate, they should review the information about how to appeal their assessment on Roanoke County’s website at www.roanokecountyva.gov/REVappeals or call the Real Estate Valuation office at (540) 772-2035.