The Senate Begins Hearings On Reform of Real Property Tax Valuation Appeals Process

House Bill 75 (HB 75) received its second hearing in the Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee late yesterday afternoon. The Ohio Chamber offered testimony in support of the bill and urged its passage. During the hearing, a question was raised on whether the Ohio Chamber would support revaluation of Class II properties (commercial and industrial parcels) to take into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the value of Class II properties. We pointed to House Bill 751 (HB 751) pending in House Ways & Means as an approach to address the issue. One of the provisions in HB 751 allows Class II property owners to file a valuation complaint for tax year 2020 even if an appeal was filed earlier for the three-year interim period containing tax year 2020. Current law only allows a property owner to file one valuation complaint per three-year interim period. In Ohio, revaluation is completed once every six years. There is a midway point valuation update, and the two divided periods are referred to as three-year interim periods. The Ohio Chamber supports that bill and will testify as a proponent of the bill when it receives a second hearing.

Currently, Ohio is only one of a handful of states that allow a third party to initiate complaints against real property owners. This means that, whether you as a property owner agree or not with your property’s assessed value as determined by your county auditor, a local government entity can file a complaint challenging that value. This means you will be forced to spend time and money defending against these complaints and, ultimately, may end up paying more in taxes.

Earlier this year, the Ohio Chamber testified in support of HB 75 while it was under consideration by the House. HB 75 requires a local governmental entity to seek local board or legislative approval before a complaint is filed against a real property owner. The bill also requires the board or legislative body to send a notice to the real property owner at least 14 days before action is taken on the request to file a complaint.

HB 75 provides a more uniform process of notification to the property owner. It also adds a layer of transparency and accountability before a complaint process starts. This new process could open up a two-way channel of communication between the property owner and local officials. This should afford the parties an opportunity to clear up any simple misunderstandings before a costly complaint process is undertaken.

The Ohio Chamber thanks the bill sponsor, Representative Merrin, for all the work he put in to get the bill to this point in the legislative process and we are hopeful that HB 75 will make it to the Senate floor for a vote before lame duck ends in December. HB 75 will help to address one of the Ohio Chamber’s public priorities – the improvement of the tax review process to ensure an efficient and fair tax system.