Senate Begins Work on House Bill 126 – Improving the Real Property Valuation Appeal Process

Yesterday, the Ohio Chamber testified in support of House Bill 126 during a hearing held in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. As readers of the blog may recall, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce made HB 126 a key vote when it was voted out of the House this past April, because it addresses a portion of a tax administration public policy priority of the Ohio Chamber. This will be the third attempt to enact modest but necessary reforms in the real property valuation appeal process. The Ohio Chamber is hopeful that the recent hearings in the Ohio Senate are a sign that the measure may make it to the finish line before the 134th General Assembly concludes its business next year.

Ohio is one of only four states that allows school districts to initiate an appeal to contest a taxpayer’s real property valuation, and Ohio may be the only state to grant such broad appeal rights to third parties. What makes this situation so unique is the fact that valuation is set by a different government official, the local county auditor, and this broad appeal structure gives local governments a second bite at setting valuation of real property.

HB 126 simply requires a school board to approve the valuation complaint at a board meeting before a school board can file a complaint with the county. HB 126 also requires the school board to give the owner notification of the meeting 14 days ahead of that meeting. It is hard to believe that anyone would be against giving a person notice before he or she becomes a party to a formal complaint process at the local board of revision. HB 126 will also provide taxpayers a chance to hold a conversation with local officials before a formal real property valuation complaint is filed. This will also provide citizens with more transparency regarding their local school boards’ agendas and spending.

The Ohio Chamber has set this as a priority because real property valuation complaints are a piece of the overall Council on State Taxation (COST) real property administration scorecard. COST currently gives Ohio a D+ in its 2019 International Property Tax Administration scorecard. Raising that scorecard grade is a top public policy priority for the Ohio Chamber during the remaining term of the 134th General Assembly, because it will lead to a better business climate for Ohio’s businesses and an improved tax climate for all Ohioans.