By: Aarika Copeland | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: February 2023
Tulsa County Assessor John Wright works within the parameters of the law to bring a fair appraisal to property owners. “It is the expectation in our office that we adjust the property assessments to keep them in line with the fair market.”
If you are a Tulsa county resident, then you may have already received your property assessment notices via mail beginning November of 2022. Or maybe you are questioning what effect the increased property value notice you received might have on your taxes.
“This is not a bill,” Tulsa County Assessor John Wright affirms. “[The notices] are our effort to communicate with the public,” he said of Tulsa residents receiving their annual assessment notifications.
“The responsibility of the county assessor's office is to put an accurate, fair market value on all property in the county as of the lawful assessment date, which is January 1,” Wright said.
The assessor's office maintains records of the value of all properties in the county as well as conducting property tax assessments.
An assessment is based on the value of the land and any improvements (i.e. buildings) on the property. The assessment process can involve an inspection of the property and an analysis of current market data. The value of the property is then used to calculate the amount of property tax that the homeowner pays.
Sometimes, property owners are able to challenge that assessment if they believe it inaccurate. Property owners have a 30-day window period after receiving their property value assessment notices for this appeal, which, “is the property owners due process,” Wright said.
There is no charge for property owners to file a formal appeal through the county clerk's office in order to dispute the assessment.
“We encourage that protest. We welcome the conversation to explain what’s going on in the market and how we arrived at the number,” he said.
You might still wonder what all this means for determining your property tax.
The property tax rate is set by the local government and is expressed as a percentage of the property's value. For example, if a property is valued at $100,000 and the property tax rate is 1%, the property tax would be $1,000 ($100,000 x 1%), with adjustments for any exemptions and credits.
The limit on the amount of property tax that a local government can impose, known as a tax cap, helps to control the cost of property taxes for homeowners. Even in areas where property values are increasing rapidly, the taxable value will increase only 3% to 5% within the year.
Exemptions, such as the Homestead exemption, can be filed between Jan. 1 and March 15.
The Homestead Exemption is often used to help lower-income homeowners afford to stay in their homes by reducing their property tax burden. It is available to property owners who use their home as their primary residence with their name on the deed, with the deed also having been filed with the county clerk's office.
“We will reflect the higher market value on our website and on our records but the number that is used to calculate the tax obligation won’t go up more than 3% in a year for a homeowner that has a Homestead on file,” Wright said on the type of tax relief the exemption offers homeowners regarding their primary residence.
A Senior Freeze Exemption, also known as a property tax freeze, can also be filed until March 15. The exemption is designed for seniors 65 and older, providing them with a predictable and affordable property tax payment each year, rather than having to pay a higher amount because of increases in the value of their property.
“[The exemption] freezes the evaluation of the property at the number of when the application is approved,” Assessor Wright said.
It is important to note that property tax calculations can be complex and may vary depending on the millage rate of the location of the property—with each millage rate established by a county excise board.
“We don’t set the tax rate. We don’t collect the taxes. We don’t send out the tax bill. Our job is evaluation,” Wright said. “Our appraisers seek to use their best judgment based on experience and computer-generated data to come up with the most accurate market number.” He then added, “All of the revenue generated by the property tax is invested locally with a lion’s share going to Tulsa City schools.”
The specific eligibility criteria for these exemptions, as well as applications and a tax estimate calculator can be found on the Tulsa County assessor website.
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