Thursday, June 26, 2014

Timber Tax Class and Chelan County Property Valuations

Is part of your property in a "Current Use" or "Designated Forest Land" program? Make sure your valuation reflects that.

When the Chelan County Assessor's Office sends "Notice of Value" statements, you should pay more than taxes... you should pay attention.

It's possible for the busy assessors to overlook the acreage you have "in program," and value your entire property as though it wasn't in the program.

A "program" in this case is where you've signed an agreement with the county so your property taxes are significantly lowered in exchange for having the use of the property remain in open space, timber land, or Designated Forest Land.

For example, if you have 39 acres in "Designated Forest Land" and 1 acre that is not, your Notice of Value might show a low New Value for Land In Program, and a high New Value for the non-program acres. That second figure should be based on the value of 1 acre, not 40.

Real estate values have been declining since the start of the recession. If you think any of the figures on your Notice of Value are higher than they should be, contact the Assessor's Office. You have 30 days to appeal your value after the Notice of Value is sent. Call 509-667-6565 and ask for the form.

An appeal might not be necessary. First, ask to talk with an assessor to understand your property valuation. I found the assessors to be friendly and reasonable. A 15-minute conversation can correct a simple error and save you hundreds of dollars on your property taxes. Their number is 509-667-6365.

You can research your property assessment and those of your neighbors, including recent sales, online.

Use the Comments section below to share your thoughts.

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