Tax statements have been mailed out
With an estimated 30,000 property tax statements and assessments finding their way into mailboxes recently, Douglas County Assessor Keith Albertsen said the timing couldn’t have been worse.
Why? Because government offices are shut down to the public amid the coronavirus pandemic and the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Albertsen said that the process for when the documents are mailed out is dictated by state statute and local officials can’t deviate from that schedule. The same is true, he said, for the Board of Appeal dates and times.
“We are aware of the social distancing recommendations and the current stay-at-home order. The meetings themselves were set according to state statute prior to February, well before the current public health situation became acute,” said Albertsen. “Whether the governor or Legislature sees fit to authorize local officials to postpone the meetings remains to be seen.”
For now, Albertsen plans on doing as much as possible over the phone (320-762-3884) or through email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). For property in the city of Alexandria, the public is asked to call 320-763-6678.
If property owners feel the need to appeal, Albertsen said his office highly encourages them to do so via email to limit everyone’s potential exposure.
He explained that estimated values shown on assessment notices are based on sales activity that takes place prior to January 2020. And he said the estimated values shown on tax statements are based on sales activity prior to January 2019.
The assessment – or valuation notice – tells people the value and classification of what their property will be for taxes payable in 2021.
The property tax statement is for taxes payable in 2020 and is based on 2019 assessed values. Taxes for the year are split in half, with the first half due by May 15 and the second half due by Oct. 15. For agricultural properties, the second half is due by Nov. 15.
Whatever effect the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic will have on future property values is unknown at this time, said Albertsen. If there is something, it would have to be measurable and would not be reflected on an assessment notice until the 2021 assessment and that would be for taxes payable in 2022, he said.
Help is available
For homestead properties, Albertsen said some relief could be available through the state Property Tax Refund program, which has two parts. He said one compares the property taxes people pay with their income and depending on the program, they could be eligible for a partial refund.
The second part compares the increase in the property tax from one year to another and income is not a factor. This is the only program, he said, that looks at the owner’s ability to afford the property tax.
Application forms can only be accessed online through the Department of Revenue at revenue.state.mn.us . In the search box, Albertsen said property owners should type in the word “M1PR.” That connects property owners to a form that compares their income with their property taxes due (on homestead property) and they may be eligible for a partial refund of their property tax.