How to Challenge Property Tax Assessments in Oklahoma
If you believe your property tax is too high in Oklahoma, you may appeal as follows:
If the assessor has wrongly described your property’s value, appeal to the equalization board;
If the assessor has sent wrong information to the treasurer, appeal to the tax roll correction board;
From either board, you can appeal to the courts.
Below, this post will explain, in more detail, how you may challenge your property tax obligations.
How county property tax works in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, counties are allowed to collect taxes from persons who own property located in the county. The amount of the tax collected on each piece of property is a percentage of the fair cash value of the property. Each county holds local elections to determine the percentage at which property in the county will be taxed. The Oklahoma Constitution prescribes certain limitations on the percentages that a county is allowed to set. To see the constitutional provisions about property tax percentages, click here, here, and here. The assessor is the elected county official who decides the amount of taxes each property owner owes. After the assessor has decided the amount to be taxed, the assessor must then submit the taxable amount on tax rolls. The assessor must deliver the tax rolls to the county treasurer by October 1 of each year. The treasurer is the elected county official who actually collects the taxes – you pay your taxes to the treasurer’s office.
If the assessor has increased the value of your property
If the assessor has increased the value of your property, or has added property to the list of property you own, the assessor must notify you, in writing, of the increase. If you don’t agree with the increase, you may file a written protest with the assessor’s office. To see the contact information for the Washington County assessor’s office, click here. (Note: Some of the information contained on the Washington County assessor’s website may be out of date. The Persaud Law Office does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained on the assessor’s website. If, after viewing the assessor’s website, you still have questions about property tax laws or the appeal procedure, consult an attorney.)
If you appeal to the assessor, you have to file this protest within 30 days after the date the assessor mailed the notice. If the assessor made a “scrivener’s error” – that is, an error in writing, you may file your protest at any time.
While your appeal is pending, you will have to pay the taxes that you are protesting. When you pay these taxes, you must notify the treasurer that you are paying these taxes under protest. The treasurer must keep fund paid under protest, separate from other funds. If, on appeal, it is determined that you actually did not owe the taxes paid under protest, the treasurer must refund these taxes to you.
After you file your protest with the assessor, the assessor must hold a hearing on the matter. You may appear at the hearing either in person, or by telephone. The assessor must issue a written ruling on your protest within seven days of the hearing.
To see the law governing an appeal to the assessor, click here.
If you disagree with the assessor’s decision, you may appeal his decision to the county board of equalization. You have to file this appeal within fifteen days after the assessor mails you his written decision. To file the appeal, fill out a form provided by the Oklahoma Tax Commission, and deliver this form to the assessor, and to the equalization board. If you appeal to the board of equalization, the board must then set a hearing date. You may appear at this hearing either in person, by telephone, or by sending a written affidavit.
To see the law governing an appeal to the board of equalization, click here.
If you don’t agree with the decision of the board of equalization, you may appeal the board’s decision to the district court in the county where the land is located. You have to file this appeal within thirty days of the board’s decision; and you must deliver the appeal to the county clerk, and to the district court. In district court, the judge will hold a hearing and issue a ruling. You may appeal any district court decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. To see how to appeal to the state Supreme Court, click here.
If you appeal to district court, or to the state Supreme Court, the courts will follow the same rules of procedure they follow in all other civil cases. Because these rules are very complicated, and difficult for a layperson to understand, I would recommend that you hire an attorney if you choose to appeal a property tax decision to the district court or the Supreme Court. For a further explanation on why you should not represent yourself in a court proceeding, click here.
The Persaud Law Office is willing to help you in any property tax challenge. If you would like a free consultation, contact us today.
If the assessor has not increased the value of your property
If the assessor has not increased the value of your property, and you still believe that the value the assessor lists is inaccurate, you must file your protest with the assessor’s office on or before the first Monday in April. The procedure for hearings and appeals, to the board of equalization, and to the courts, is the same as the procedure for hearings and appeals when the assessor has increased the value of your property. See above for a description of this process.
If the assessor has delivered incorrect tax rolls to the treasurer
If there is incorrect information in the tax rolls that the assessor has delivered to the treasurer, you may appeal to the county board of tax roll corrections. While your appeal is pending before the board of tax roll corrections, your taxes will not be due until thirty days after the board makes its decision.
The board of tax roll corrections must hold a hearing on your appeal. The board must correct the tax roll if:
The assessor says you own property that you don’t own;
The assessor says you should pay taxes from tax exempt property;
The law allows you a tax deduction, and the assessor didn’t list it;
The county has taxed the same property twice;
The assessor says you owe taxes in a year when you don’t owe taxes;
Your property has been damages by fire, or floods, or overflow of streams;
The assessor has incorrectly described your land;
The assessor, or the board of equalization, have decided that you owe a certain amount, and this amount is different from the amount on the tax rolls;
The assessor says you owe taxes on property that is not in the county, or doesn’t exist;
Property was listed in the tax roll, and the county, or a city, town, or school district has since acquired the property;
There has been an error in calculation of the taxes you owe;
The wrong name has been entered on the tax roll;
The assessor has made a mistake in listing the value of your land;
The assessor has been ordered to remove a tax from the tax rolls, and has not done so; or
The assessor has entered a personal property assessment, and personal tax charge, that should not be on the tax roll.
To see the law governing an appeal to the board of tax roll corrections, click here.
If you disagree with a decision of the board of tax roll corrections, you may appeal the decision to district court in the county where the property is located. You must file this appeal within fifteen days of the board’s decision. You may appeal a district court decision to the state Supreme Court; click here to see how to appeal to the Supreme Court.
As I have recommended elsewhere on this blog, you should hire a lawyer, and not represent yourself if your case goes to district court or to the state Supreme Court. If you would like the Persaud Law Office to represent you in an appeal of your property taxes, contact us today.
If the tax man cometh …
If the county claims that you owe more taxes than you really owe, you don’t have to accept your tax burden. The law provides a way out for you if the assessor makes a wrong decision. If the tax man cometh, you can fight him through the procedures in this post. Don’t become a victim of miscalculation.