Common Questions

What does the July 1 Assessment Date mean?

All property is assessed annually as of July 1. Each person's annual tax bill is based upon the condition and ownership of real and personal property as of July 1 of the previous year. For example, your 2016 tax bill was based upon ownership as of July 1, 2015. The 2015 tax bill was based upon ownership on July 1, 2014. The 2017 Tax Bill is based upon ownership as of July 1, 2016. Etc., etc.

This process can benefit and hurt the taxpayer on occasion. For example, if you purchase a vehicle on July 5, 2017, you will not have to pay taxes on it until you receive the 2019 tax bill (no taxes are due on this vehicle in 2018 since you did not own the car on July 1, 2017!).

However, if you purchase a home on July 5, 2017, which was classified as rental on July 1st, you will be responsible for the 2018 tax bill as a rental property, not an owner-occupied home. This means that the 2018 bill will be twice what you will pay in the following years since the tax rate on rental property is double that than on owner-occupied homes.

If there is a mistake on my assessment and I am overcharged on my tax bill, how can it be corrected?

In certain instances, an exoneration can be given to the taxpayer so that the amount attributed to the error is refunded to the taxpayer or credited to any outstanding bills. The Assessor's Office will process the necessary paperwork to correct the error which usually takes 1-3 weeks. Exonerations can't be given, however, because you simply think your taxes are too high. A verifiable clerical, computer, classification or data collection error must have occurred to be eligible for an exoneration to be approved. Contact the Assessor's office immediately to determine if an exoneration is warranted.

Since the Assessor is elected in West Virginia, can't he/she assess property any way they want?

No, as with all public officials, Assessors take an oath to obey the laws of the United States and the State of West Virginia. The methods of assessing property are clearly spelled out in the property tax laws and regulations in each county which every Assessor must follow. Violating that oath will result in fines, removal from office and legal penalties. If these rules are not followed, this can lead to favoritism and corruption, where property is not assessed according to its value but according to the personal whim of the Assessor. As a result many people can evade paying any taxes or much less than their fair share.

Besides determining property values, what other responsibilities does the Assessor have?

In West Virginia, the Assessor has several additional responsibilities. We keep track of ownership changes, maintain maps of parcel boundaries, keep descriptions of building and property characteristics up to date and keep track of exemptions. We also analyze trends in sales prices, construction costs and rents to estimate the value of all assessable property. We also are responsible for collecting fees for dog licenses. As you can see, in order to serve you effectively, we need your cooperation. By submitting timely, accurate property returns and providing accurate information to deputies who visit your property, you help us better serve you.

I own rental property and a vacant lot, are they taxed differently than the home in which I live?

In West Virginia, yes. Remember, the goal of the Assessor's Office is to estimate each property's fair, current market value. The assessed value is then multiplied by a tax rate. According to state law, the tax rate for rental and vacant property is twice that than for owner occupied property. This means that if your home is assessed for $20,000 and the rental property next to it is also assessed for $20,000, taxes on the rental property will be twice the taxes due on the owner occupied home. The method for determining the value of each property is the same, but the tax rate applied to certain classes of property are different.

What is the state-mandated property reappraisal?

In 1990, the West Virginia Legislature ordered a statewide reappraisal of all property in West Virginia. This was ordered because most property in the state had not been revalued for 20 to 30 years. Property purchased within the last few years was being valued much higher than similar property which had not changed hands for those 20-30 years. In other words, similar homes were not being assessed the same. Reappraisal now occurs in three year cycles and the goal is to estimate each property's fair, current market value - the price your property could sell for today on the open market.

I believe my assessment is incorrect, what can the Assessor's Office do?

There is no greater obligation of an Assessor than to value all property fairly and accurately. In West Virginia, you can ask for a review of your assessment by the Assessor's Office at any time during the year if you believe either of two things: 1) items that affect the value of your property are listed incorrectly; or 2) the estimated market value is too high and you have evidence that similar properties have sold for less than the market value of your property. Remember, however, that an assessment appeal is not a complaint about higher property taxes. It is an attempt to prove that your property's estimated current market value is not accurate. Presenting clear convincing evidence such as a recent appraisal or bank refinancing documents almost always results in a lowered assessment.

Do taxes have to rise?

No! Your property tax bill is determined by multiplying a levy rate against your assessed value. The assessed value is 60% of the property's current market value. If property values rise and levy rates are reduced, taxes do not have to rise!

Assessed Value x Levy Rate = Tax Bill

The County Commission and Board of Education annually set their levy rates in March. Approximately 74 cents of every dollar paid on your property tax bill goes to the Board of Education, 18 cents to the County Commission, and 8 cents to the Cities. You should contact the members of the Board of Education and County Commission to voice your desire for lower levy rates in order to reduce your annual property tax bills or to limit any increases caused by increased property valuations.

I began receiving royalty payments after signing a lease for the oil & gas rights I own. I pay Federal and State Income Tax, do I have to also pay a property tax on the royalty interest/income?

Yes. Minerals have been subject to property taxation since WV became a state. Most people in the county did not realize this until thousands of leases started to be signed, wells were drilled, gas began to be produced and sold, and royalties began to be paid. The State Code and WV Legislature have recognized that minerals not only contribute to the value of the land, but are to be assessed separately. So you do receive separate property tax bills (in addition to those received for your home and vehicles) for the royalty interest owned. The producers (companies such as Chevron, Southwest Energy, Noble Energy, etc.), referred to as the working interest, are to have their value placed on the personal property books. The owners of the oil and gas, those signing leases and referred to as the royalty interest, are to have their value placed on the land books. The State Tax Department and not the Assessor's Office determine the assessed values of both the working and royalty interests.



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