County auditor warns against property appeals solicitations

Via Newark Advocate

NEWARK — Licking County Auditor Michael L. Smith is warning property owners to beware of companies offering to assist with valuation appeals.

ValueAppeal LLC of Seattle is one of several companies mailing letters to area residents saying they could be overpaying their taxes because “the county” value of their property might be in error, Smith warned in a news release. “I have seen solicitations that say owners could be overpaying by thousands of dollars,” said Smith.

Some mailings offer what some companies term “a custom report.” One charges $159. Smith said owners can do the research on their own and can file an appeal for no charge with the Board of Revision (BOR).

“We often advise homeowners to contact a Realtor who is active in their area for an independent opinion of their value as a first step,” he said. “They can also review recent sales of comparable properties on our website .”

“The information is available and easy to access,” said Smith. “Why pay some out-of-town company to provide what anyone can get at no cost?” he asked.

He noted similar letters have been mailed to property owners in counties across the state.

The auditor stated in the news release that no one can offer a “guarantee” or “a very high likelihood” of a value reduction.

“Promises of ‘risk free’ filings are extremely misleading,” he said. “Each case is considered on its merits and the BOR can increase a value. Filing a BOR complaint is the initiation of a legal proceeding. Potential filers are urged to carefully review the instructions we provide to best present their case,” he added.

The BOR is a three-member board which includes the county auditor, county treasurer and a county commissioner.

The auditor’s office completed a full reappraisal in 2011. The current values became effective with the first tax bill in 2012. Owners who believe their value is inaccurate should make sure their BOR complaint forms are received by the Auditor’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. on April 1.

Complaint forms and instructions are available from the auditor’s office (740-670-5040) or may be accessed on the auditor’s website (http://www.lcounty.com/auditor/).

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