Contact Information

Elected Official:
Pat Vaughan, Assessor
Phone:
(208) 883-5710
Fax:
(208) 883-2298
E-mail:
assessor
Location:
Latah County Courthouse - Room 103 & 109

Assessor's Office
Property Assessment - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How is property assessed?

A: Idaho law requires that all taxable property be assessed at market value each year. To do this, the county assessor develops valuation guidelines based on the sales prices and some of the features of homes that have recently sold. Some of the features that often influence what a buyer would pay for your home and land include size, quality, age, condition, and location.

The county assessor uses this information to estimate how much a buyer might reasonably pay for your home if it were to sell on January 1 of the assessment year.

The Assessor's Office has no control over tax rates.

Q: What is market value?

A: Market value is the value that property would sell for in the open market. It is the amount of U.S. dollars or equivalent for which a property would probably exchange hands between a willing seller and an informed buyer.

Buyers and sellers in the real estate market establish value. The Assessor's staff researches the market and collects information about properties to estimate value.

The Assessor uses standard methods, which utilize the three traditional approaches to value (cost, market, and income), to estimate the fair market value of a given property.

It is important to note that the Assessor is simply measuring the information produced in the market to determine the estimated value. The economic principles of supply and demand, along with the desires of the purchasers and sellers of property, determine fair value.

All property is assessed as of January 1 each year using sales of property occurring between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year. If too few or no sales are available, the assessor can use sales from other time periods, or from similar areas.

The assessor's office defends values or appraisals using current sales information of comparable properties and making adjustments for dissimilar characteristics between the subject and sales. This process demonstrates that the subject property is valued according to market sales.

Q: How often are property values adjusted?

A: Idaho law requires the assessor's office to reappraise property on a five year cycle, meaning each property will be physically reappraised at least once in a five year cycle to assure that it is as close to market value as possible. Each of the other four years of the cycle, the law requires that a market adjustment be applied to the property, based on the selling prices of similar properties, to keep the property value in line with market trends.

Q: Why do property values change?

A: A property's value may change for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that the property changes. A bedroom, garage, or bathroom is added, or part of the property is destroyed by vandalism or fire.

The most frequent cause of a change in value is a change in the market. If a community's major industry leaves, property values can collapse. As older neighborhoods with good quality housing are discovered by young homebuyers, prices gradually rise and then may even soar as the neighborhood becomes fashionable. A shortage of homes in a desirable city neighborhood can send prices to extreme levels. In a recession, larger homes may stay on the market for a long time, but more affordable homes are in demand, so their prices rise.

In a stable neighborhood, with no extraordinary pressure from the market, inflation may increase property value.

Q: How do I know what value the assessor has established for my property?

A: The value for your property is shown on your assessment notice. The county assessor usually mails this notice to you by the first Monday in June. If you do not receive this notice, contact the county assessor.

Q: What if I disagree with the value the assessor established for my property?

A: Your county assessor maintains a file of information on your property. If you have any questions about your assessment, you should contact your county assessor to review the accuracy of the records at 208-883-5710, or email assessor. We are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

You may appeal the valuation to the Board of Equalization. This board consists of the county commissioners. However, we strongly recommend that your first step be to call or visit the assessor's office. The appraiser who valued the property will explain it and answer questions. You may have additional information about the property. Appeals must by filed on a form available at your county clerk/auditor office in the courthouse by the fourth Monday in June.

To achieve a meaningful and productive appeal, the property owner should supply evidence that establishes error in the appraisal of the property. It is important to employ comparables from the same location as the subject and to consider age, type and condition. Sales occurring this year will be considered for next year's assessment. It is essential to understand the definition of typical when supplying information to the assessor. When several comparable properties sell, the assessor applies the average or typical values gathered from such data in determining the assessment instead of picking the highest or lowest values.

The assessor's office strives to place fair market value on property and has no authority to adjust the spending level of schools and local government.

Q: How is my property tax determined?

A: The amount of tax is determined from the budget needs of the taxing districts. There are many kinds of taxing districts in Idaho. Some, like cities and counties, levy taxes to provide a wide range of services. Others levy taxes for specific purposes like highways, schools, or fire protections. Officials for each taxing district determine the annual budget needed to provide services for the district. The approved budget is divided by the total taxable value of all properties within the district. The result is the district's tax rate. This rate, multiplied by the taxable value of your property, determines the amount of taxes you owe to that district.

Every property is located within several independent taxing districts. This means your property tax bill includes taxes for all the districts that your property is in. This combination of taxing districts is known as a "tax code area." Each of these areas is assigned a number that appears on your assessment notice and tax bill. Within each tax code area, the total tax rate is generally the same for all properties. The taxable value of your property determines how much tax you pay in relation to other properties. Assessments must be accurate for all taxpayers to pay their fair share of the total property taxes.

Q: Is any tax relief available to homeowners?

A: Yes. Idaho has a homeowner's exemption for owner-occupied homes, including manufactured homes, which are primary dwellings. This exempts 50% or $81,000 (for 2013), whichever is less, of the value of your home and up to 1 acre of land. Each year the State Tax Commission sets the exemption amount. Taxes are computed on the remaining value. You may also receive the homeowner's exemption if you are paying occupancy taxes.

Applications are available from your county assessor's office. When an application is approved, the exemption is permanent as long as you own and occupy the property. If the property is sold, the new owner must file a new application. There are no income or age restrictions, but you can qualify for an exemption on only one home at a time. You must own and occupy your home before April 15th and must apply for an exemption by April 15th.

You may also qualify for Idaho's Property Tax Reduction Program, the "Circuit Breaker", if you meet the income requirements and fit one of the following categories:

  • Age 65 or older
  • Widow(er)
  • Blind
  • Former POW
  • Fatherless or Motherless Minor
  • Qualifying Disabled Persons

Applications may be obtained from your county assessor and must be filed each year between January 1 and April 15. You may also call for information at 883-5710, or email assessor.

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