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"Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity." Lucius Annaeus Seneca

In the coming weeks, 25 counties throughout Ohio will be sending written notices to property owners. The notices will contain information and opportunity. The information will relate to the proposed new values of your real estate. The opportunity will be the chance to help the county auditor get your value right and maximize your savings.

In Ohio, the county auditor is required to reappraise every parcel of real estate within that county every six years. R.C. 5713.01.* For property owners this is the sweet spot to challenge the county's valuation because the value will likely last for 3 years and maybe even an additional 3 years with an adjustment. Filing in these counties in this window of time helps offset the costs associated with seeking the change in value.

If you want the auditor (informally) or board of revision (via the formal process) to reduce its valuation, then you have two options. One, you can present evidence of a recent, valid, arm's-length sale. If no sale has occurred, then you must present a tax-lien-dated (i.e., 1/1/2018) appraisal report.

If you want to be "lucky" enough to save money, you need to be prepared. So take the time now to comply a list of your real estate holdings in Ohio. Determine if you've recently filed a formal complaint. Check the county's value. On income-producing properties, gather the income and expense statements for the last three years. Talk to your advisors about the thoughts on the value of the real estate.

Then, when the county's notice arrives, you be prepared. You will be ready to determine whether the 2018 tax year value is fair and reasonable. If you decide the county has overvalued your real estate, then you will also be prepared to submit an intelligent, fact-based argument to support your position.**

If I can help you in any way at any stage of the process, or if you have any questions about this process, pick up the phone and give me a call. (216) 201-9617. I am here.

If you successfully challenge the values in anyone of the following 19 counties (5 counties are updating values, which will last for 3 years), you can spread out the costs associated with the appraisal report and attorney fees over the six years. In contrast, a property owner in Medina County, for example, might receive a decision that only changes the 2018 value. In Medina County, the auditor will set new values for the 2019 tax year, which may require the property owner to file a new complaint.

Here's a list of Ohio counties (and County seats) that will receive new values for the 2018 tax year along with a quick fact:

  • Belmont (St. Clairsville) - William Lawrence Boyd, who played Hopalong Cassidy, was born in Belmont County.

  • Brown (Georgetown) - President Grant's father build a home and set up a tannery here.

  • Crawford (Bucyrus) - Named after Revolutionary War soldier Colonel William Crawford.

  • Cuyahoga (Cleveland) - Originally part of the French colony of Canada (New France).

  • Erie (Sandusky) - Home to the world famous Cedar Point amusement park

  • Fayette (Washington Court House) - Named after the Marquis de La Fayette who fought in the Revolutionary War & who played an important role in the French Revolution.

  • Highland (Hillsboro) - Birthplace of Cartoonist Milt Caniff who was called "The Rembrandt of Comics"

  • Huron (Norwalk) - President Hayes was a resident.

  • Jefferson (Steubenville) - Fort Steuben, now Steubenville, contained the first federal land office in Ohio, which sold federal land to settlers as they migrated westward.

  • Lake (Painesville) - Early settlers were the Mormons, who established a temple at Kirtland in 1833.

  • Lorain (Elyria) - Home to Oberlin College which was the 1st US college to admit women & African Americans into the same classes as white men.

  • Lucas (Toledo) - Site of the dispute that gave rise to the heated and storied Ohio State / Michigan sports rivalry. Also the home of the largest manufacturer or jeeps during WWII.

  • Morgan (McConnelsville) - Named in honor of Daniel Morgan, a hero of the American Revolution.

  • Muskingum (Zanesville) - Astronaut & Senator John Glenn grew up here. Author Zane Grey also lived here.

  • Ottawa (Port Clinton) - Johnson's Island was a Union prison for Confederate officers during the Civil War.

  • Portage (Ravenna) - Home to United States President James Garfield and abolitionist John Brown.

  • Stark (Canton) - Home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • Warren (Lebanon) - Named for Dr. Warren, a hero of the Revolution who sent Paul Revere on his ride.

  • Williams (Bryan) - Named after Revolutionary War soldier who found discovered Benedict Arnold's plot to turn over West Point to the British.

* "The auditor shall view and appraise or cause to be viewed and appraised at its true value in money, each lot or parcel of real estate ... and the improvements located thereon at least once in each six-year period."

** Counties typically also set up times and locations where a property owner can "informally" submit information to the appraiser. This process is faster (and thus cheaper) than the more formal method of filing a tax complaint against the valuation of real estate set forth in R.C. 5715.19.

Steve Nowak © 2018

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The contents of this article should not be construed as, and should not be relied upon for legal advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. The article is intended to inform the general public of its legal rights. No formal legal action should be taken in reliance on the information contained in this article and I disclaim any and all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this site to the fullest extent permitted by law. An attorney--especially in Ohio--should be contacted for advice on a case-by-case basis.

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