After property tax bills were sent out the week of Jan. 20, questions, comments and concerns began pouring into the Douglas County assessor's office.
“We have had about three times the normal number of phone calls and walk-ins in our office in the last few days,” Assessor Lisa Frizell said.
Many of those calling and walking in are asking the same questions about appealing their home valuations, applying for the senior property tax exemption and where their money is going.
The senior tax exemption allows longtime property owners over the age of 65 to reduce the taxable value of their property. For this year's bill, it can only help those who were eligible and applied in 2019. Residents can apply for next year's exemption until July 15.
Another major question from residents is why their property taxes seem to constantly increase, Frizell said. This most recent year was an assessment year, meaning home values were reassessed by the county based on comparable home sales. Single-family home values in Douglas County increased on average by nearly 15%.
Residents who believe their home's valuation, which makes up part of the property tax bill, is incorrect can file an abatement appeal within two years of the date taxes are due.
Only those who didn't appeal their valuation when it was initially set in 2019 can apply for this. The process can take up to six months and doesn't extend the due dates on a tax bill.
Frizell predicted that people would be shocked by how much their bills went up this year due to value increases and state-set assessment rates.
Many people have also asked about what happens to this revenue once they submit it, Frizell said. That often leads to the assessor's office explaining metro districts and how they came to exist, since there are so many in Douglas County.
“Over two-thirds of the taxing authorities are metro districts,” Frizell said.
Often, the assessor's office directs folks to their website, douglas.co.us/assessor, or an online tool called YourDougCoTaxes.com. Both allow residents to see what taxing districts exist where they own property.
“That really explains how your tax distribution looks,” Frizell said.
There are two options when paying these bills: Residents can pay one installment or split the tax into two equal payments. If one payment is selected, it's due by April 30. If the tax is split, the first payment is due Feb. 29 and the second is due June 15.
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