Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jim Reynolds: File Property Tax Bill Appeals

Oklahoma County homeowners who have recently received their property tax bill need to file an appeal before the clock runs out, says Senator Jim Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City.

Reynolds said today that one out of three homeowners in the county is being overcharged.

He said that’s just one problem in a system that is clearly broken and needs to be fixed.

“After reviewing ad valorem records from Oklahoma County for the last three years, I learned that about one-third of all homes were over-valued, and thus taxed too high.” Reynolds said.

He said his statement is based on actual sales data provided by the Oklahoma County Assessor.

“Our schools don’t even get the benefit of those excess tax collections,” Reynolds said. “The way the state funding formula is set up, when the schools in Oklahoma County see their ad valorem revenues increase their state funding is decreased by an equal amount.”Reynolds said there are problems in other counties as well. He noted that county assessors in more than 50 of the state’s 77 counties are not following the constitutional requirement to re-evaluate the fair market and taxable value of property every year.

“An Attorney General’s ruling in 2001 stated that under Oklahoma’s Constitution, it was mandatory for counties to make adjustments to property values every year,” Reynolds said. “Failing to do this has resulted in school districts throughout the state being denied funds they need for the classroom. If assessors are willfully violating the Constitution, they should be removed from office.”

Reynolds said he will ask the attorney general to provide all county assessors in Oklahoma with a copy of the 2001 opinion that property valuations are to be reviewed each year.

“If need be, I am willing to pay for copies of this opinion to be sent to every county assessor. In the name of fairness and for the sake of our schools, this oversight must be corrected,” Reynolds said. “At the same time, I strongly urge Oklahoma County property owners to file appeals on their tax bill, because the way it stands, one out of three is paying too much."

“Whether you live in Oklahoma County and are being overcharged, or you are the parent of a child in a county where property taxes are undercharged due to outdated valuations, I would say neither situation is in the best interest of our state as a whole. This system is broken and it needs to be addressed.”

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