Senate Bill No. 110
(By Senators Palumbo, Jenkins and McCabe)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported March 28, 2013.]
A Bill to amend and reenact §11-1C-9 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend and reenact §11-3-1, §11-3-15c and §11-3-15d of said code, all relating to phasing in any assessment of property if there is an increase in the assessment after valuation for the property of more than twenty-five percent; clarifying that the limitation does not apply to natural resources property or to property upon which improvements have been made; and increasing the time to file a petition in response to notice of an increased assessment of certain real and personal property.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §11-1C-9 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that §11-3-1, §11-3-15c and §11-3-15d of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1C. FAIR AND EQUITABLE PROPERTY VALUATION.
§11-1C-9. Periodic valuations.
(a) After completion of the initial valuation required under section seven of this article, each assessor shall maintain current values on the real and personal property within the county. In repeating three-year cycles, every parcel of real property shall be visited by a member of the assessor’s staff who has been trained pursuant to section six of this article to determine if any changes have occurred which would affect the valuation for the property. With this information and information such as sales ratio studies provided by the Tax Commissioner, the assessor shall make such adjustments as are necessary to maintain accurate, current valuations of all the real and personal property in the county and shall adjust the assessments accordingly. If any increase in valuation for the property results in more than a twenty-five percent increase in the assessment, the assessor shall phase in the assessment over a period of two years. This phase in of the assessment does not apply to natural resources property, as defined in section ten of this article, and does not apply when improvements made on the property resulted in the increased assessment.
(b) In any year the assessed value of a property or species of property be is less than or exceed exceeds sixty percent of current market value, the Tax Commissioner shall direct the assessor to make the necessary adjustments. If any increase in valuation for the property results in more than a twenty-five percent increase in the assessment, the assessor shall phase in the assessment over a period of two years. This phase in of the assessment does not apply to natural resources property, as defined in section ten of this article, and does not apply when improvements made on the property resulted in the increased assessment. If any assessor fails to comply with the provisions of this section, the Tax Commissioner may, at the county commission's expense, take reasonable steps to remedy the assessment deficiencies.
ARTICLE 3. PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS GENERALLY.
§11-3-1. Time and basis of assessments; true and actual value; default; reassessment; special assessors; criminal penalty.
(a) All property, except public service businesses assessed pursuant to article six of this chapter, shall be assessed annually as of July 1 at sixty percent of its true and actual value, that is to say, at the price for which the property would sell if voluntarily offered for sale by the owner thereof, upon the terms as the property, the value of which is sought to be ascertained, is usually sold, and not the price which might be realized if the property were sold at a forced sale. If any increase in valuation for the property results in more than a twenty-five percent increase in the assessment, the assessor shall phase in the assessment over a period of two years. This phase in of the assessment does not apply to natural resources property, as defined in section ten of this article, and does not apply when improvements made on the property resulted in the increased assessment.
(b) Any conflicting provisions of subsection (a) of this section notwithstanding, the true and actual value of all property owned, used and occupied by the owner thereof exclusively for residential purposes shall be arrived at by also giving consideration to the fair and reasonable amount of income which the same might be expected to earn, under normal conditions in the locality wherein situated, if rented. Provided, That The true and actual value of all farms used, occupied and cultivated by their owners or bona fide tenants, shall be arrived at according to the fair and reasonable value of the property for the purpose for which it is actually used regardless of what the value of the property would be if used for some other purpose and that the true and actual value shall be arrived at by giving consideration to the fair and reasonable income which the same might be expected to earn under normal conditions in the locality wherein situated, if rented. Provided, however, That nothing herein shall alter Nothing herein alters the method of assessment of lands or minerals owned by domestic or foreign corporations.
(c) The taxes upon all property shall be paid by those who are the owners thereof on the assessment date whether it be assessed to them or others.
(d) If at any time after the beginning of the assessment year, it be ascertained by the Tax Commissioner that the assessor, or any of his or her deputies, is not complying with this provision or that they have failed, neglected or refused, or is failing, neglecting or refusing after five days' notice to list and assess all property therein at sixty percent of its true and actual value as determined under this chapter, the Tax Commissioner may order and direct a reassessment of any or all of the property in any county, district or municipality, where any assessor, or deputy, fails, neglects or refuses to assess the property in the manner herein provided. And, For the purpose of making assessment and correction of values, the Tax Commissioner may appoint one or more special assessors, as necessity may require, to make assessment in any county and any such special assessor or assessors, as the case may be, has the power and authority now vested by law in assessors, and the work of such special assessor or assessors shall be accepted and treated for all purposes by the county boards of review and equalization and the levying bodies, subject to any revisions of value on appeal, as the true and lawful assessment of that year as to all property valued by him or her or them. The Tax Commissioner shall fix the compensation of all special assessors appointed, which, together with their actual expenses, shall be paid out of the county fund by the county commission of the county in which any such assessment is ordered, upon the receipt of a certificate of the Tax Commissioner filed with the clerk of the county commission showing the amounts due and to whom payable, after such expenses have been audited by the county commission.
(e) Any assessor who knowingly fails, neglects or refuses to assess all the property of his or her county, as herein provided, shall be is guilty of malfeasance in office and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 or imprisoned confined in jail not less than three nor more than six months, or both fined and confined, in the discretion of the court, and upon conviction, shall be removed from office.
(f) For purposes of this chapter and chapter eleven-a of this code, the following terms have the meanings ascribed to them in this section unless the context in which the term is used clearly indicates that a different meaning is intended by the Legislature:
(1) “Assessment date” means July 1 of the year preceding the tax year.
(2) “Assessment year” means the twelve-month period that begins on the assessment date.
(3) “Tax year” or “property tax year” means the next calendar year that begins after the assessment date.
(4) “Taxpayer” means the owner and any other person in whose name the taxes on the subject property are lawfully assessed.
§11-3-15c. Petition for assessor review of improper valuation of real property.
(a) A taxpayer who is of the opinion that his or her real property has been valued too high or otherwise improperly valued or listed in the notice given as provided in section two-a of this article may, but is not required to, file a petition for review with the assessor on a written form prescribed by the Tax Commissioner. This section shall not apply to industrial and natural resource property appraised by the Tax Commissioner.
(b) The petition shall state the taxpayer’s opinion of the true and actual value of the property and substantial information that justifies that opinion of value for the assessor to consider for purposes of basing a change in classification or correction of the valuation. For purposes of this subsection, the taxpayer provides shall provide substantial information to justify the opinion of value by stating the method or methods of valuation on which the opinion is based:
(1) Under the income approach, including the information required in section fifteen-e of this article;
(2) Under the market approach, including the true and actual value of at least three comparable properties in the same geographic area or the sale of the subject property; or
(3) Under the cost approach, including the replacement cost or the cost to build or rebuild the property, plus the true and actual value of the land.
(c) The petition may include more than one parcel of property if they are part of the same economic unit according to the Tax Commissioner’s guidelines or if they are owned by the same owner, have the same use, are appealed on the same basis and are located in the same tax district or in contiguous tax districts of the county, and are in a form prescribed by the Tax Commissioner.
(d) The petition shall be filed within five eight business days after the date the taxpayer receives the notice of increased assessment under section two-a of this article or the notice of increased value was published as a Class II-0 legal advertisement as provided in that section.
§11-3-15d. Administrative review of tangible personal property valuation by assessor.
(a) The owner of business tangible personal property that is valued by the assessor or the person in whose possession it is found on the assessment date may appeal to the assessor within five eight business days after the date the notice of increased assessment required by section fifteen-b of this article was received by filing a petition with the assessor on a form prescribed by the Tax Commissioner. The petition shall set forth in writing:
(1) The taxpayer’s opinion of the value of the tangible personal property; and
(2) Substantial information that justifies the opinion of value in order for the assessor to consider the information for the purpose of basing a change in the valuation.
(b) The assessor shall rule on each petition no later than February 10 of the tax year.
(c) The notice of the assessor’s ruling provided under this section shall be given in the same manner as prescribed in section fifteen-h of this article.
(d) If the request of the petitioner is denied, in whole or in part, the notice required by subsection (c) of this section shall include the grounds for refusing to grant the request contained in the petition.
(e) This section shall not apply to tangible personal property appraised by the Tax Commissioner as part of an industrial or natural resource property appraisal.