1a. A veteran of any of the military forces of the United States, who acquired the homestead under 38 U.S.C. §21.801, 21.802, or 38 U.S.C. §2101, 2102.
1b. A veteran as defined in Section 35.1 with a permanent service-connected disability rating of 100%, or a permanent and total disability rating based on individual unemployability that is compensated at the 100% disability rate.
1c. A former member of the National Guard of any state who otherwise meets the service requirements of Iowa Code section 35.1, subsection 2, paragraph “b”, subsection (2) or (7), with a permanent service-connected disability rating of 100%, or a permanent and total disability rating based on individual unemployability that is compensated at the 100% disability rate.
1d. An individual who is a surviving spouse or a child who is receiving dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) pursuant to 38 U.S.C. §1301 et seg.
On any tract of land in the state of Iowa, the owner or owners may select a permanent forest reservation or reservations, each not less than two acres in continuous area, or a fruit-tree reservation or reservations, not less than one nor more than ten acres in total area, or both, and upon compliance with the provisions of this chapter, such owner or owners shall be entitled to the benefits provided by law.
A forest reservation shall contain not less than two hundred growing forest trees on each acre. If the area selected is a forest containing the required number of growing forest trees, it shall be accepted as a forest reservation under this chapter provided application is made or on file on or before February 1st of the exemption year. If any buildings are standing on an area selected as a forest reservation under this section or a fruit-tree reservation under section 427C.7 one acre of that area shall be excluded from the tax exemption. However, the exclusion of that acre shall not affect the area's meeting the acreage requirement of section 427C.2.
Not more than one-fifth of the total number of trees in any forest reservation may be removed in any one year, excepting in cases where the trees die naturally.
The ash, black cherry, black walnut, butternut, catalpa, coffee tree, the elms, hackberry, the hickories, honey locust, Norway and Carolina poplars, mulberry, the oaks, sugar maple, cottonwood, soft maple, Osage orange, basswood, black locust, European larch and other coniferous trees, and all other forest trees introduced into the state for experimental purposes, shall be considered forest trees within the meaning of this chapter. In forest reservations which are artificial groves, the willows, box elder, and other poplars shall be included among forest trees for the purposes of this chapter when they are used as protecting borders not exceeding two rows in width around a forest reservation, or when they are used as nurse trees for forest trees in such forest reservation, the number of such nurse trees not to exceed one hundred on each acre; provided that only box elder shall be used as nurse trees.
The trees of a forest reservation shall be in groves not less than four rods wide except when the trees are growing or are planted in or along a gully or ditch to control erosion in which case any width will qualify provided the area meets the size requirement of two acres.
A fruit-tree reservation shall contain on each acre, at least forty apple trees, or seventy other fruit trees, growing under proper care and annually pruned and sprayed. A reservation may be claimed as a fruit-tree reservation, under this chapter, for a period of eight years after planting provided application is made or on file or before February 1st of the exemption year.
The cultivated varieties of apples, crabs, plums, cherries, peaches, and pears shall be considered fruit trees within the meaning of this chapter.
When any tree or trees on a fruit-tree or forest reservation shall be removed or die, the owner or owners of such reservation shall, within one year, plant and care for other fruit or forest trees, in order that the number of such trees may not fall below that required by this chapter.
Cattle, horses, mules, sheep, goats, ostriches, rheas, emus, and swine shall not be permitted upon a fruit-tree or forest reservation. Fruit-tree and forest reservations shall not be used for economic gain other than the gain from raising fruit or forest trees.
If the owner or owners of a fruit-tree or forest reservation violate any provision of this chapter within the two years preceding the making of an assessment, the assessor shall not list any tract belonging to such owner or owners, as a reservation within the meaning of this chapter, for the ensuing two years.
It shall be the duty of the assessor to secure the facts relative to fruit-tree and forest reservations by taking the sworn statement, or affirmation, of the owner or owners making application under this chapter; and to make special report to the county auditor of all reservations made in the county under the provisions of this chapter.
The board of supervisors shall designate the county conservation board or the assessor who shall inspect the area for which an application is filed for a fruit-tree or forest reservation tax exemption before the application is accepted. Use of aerial photographs may be substituted for on-site inspection when appropriate. The application can only be accepted if it meets the criteria established by the natural resource commission to be a fruit-tree or forest reservation. Once the application has been accepted, the area shall continue to receive the tax exemption during each year in which the area is maintained as a fruit-tree or forest reservation without the owner having to refile. If the property is sold or transferred, the seller shall notify the buyer that all, or part of, the property is in fruit-tree or forest reservation and subject to the recapture tax provisions of this section. The tax exemption shall continue to be granted for the remainder of the eight-year period for fruit-tree reservation and for the following years for forest reservation or until the property no longer qualifies as a fruit-tree or forest reservation. The area may be inspected each year by the county conservation board or the assessor to determine if the area is maintained as a fruit-tree or forest reservation. If the area is not maintained or is used for economic gain other than as a fruit-tree reservation during any year of the eight-year exemption period and any year of the following five years or as a forest reservation during any year for which the exemption is granted and any of the five years following those exemption years, the assessor shall assess the property for taxation at its fair market value as of January 1 of that year and in addition the area shall be subject to a recapture tax. However, the area shall not be subject to the recapture tax if the owner, including one possessing under a contract of sale, and the owner's direct antecedents or descendants have owned the area for more than ten years. The tax shall be computed by multiplying the consolidated levy for each of those years, if any, of the five preceding years for which the area received the exemption for fruit-tree or forest reservation times the assessed value of the area that would have been taxed but for the tax exemption. This tax shall be entered against the property on the tax list for the current year and shall constitute a lien against the property in the same manner as a lien for property taxes. The tax when collected shall be apportioned in the manner provided for the apportionment of the property taxes for the applicable tax year.
The county assessor shall keep a record of all forest and fruit-tree reservations in the county and submit a report of the reservations to the department of natural resources not later than June 15 of each year. See Code of Iowa Chapter 427C.
January 1 - Effective date of current assessment.
April 2 through April 25 - Property owner may request an informal review of their assessment by the assessor.
April 2 through April 30 - Protest of assessment period for filing with the local Board of Review.
May 1 through adjournment - Board of Review meets each year.
October 9 through October 31 - Protest period for filing with Board of Review on those properties affected by changes in value as a result of the Director of Revenue Equalization Orders (odd numbered years).
Property Owners Legal Responsibility
It is your responsibility to report to the Assessor changes or improvements to your real estate. 441.24 (1) Code of Iowa provides:
If a person refuses to furnish the verified statement by the assessor, or to list the corporation's or person's property, the director of revenue and finance or assessor, as the case may be, shall proceed to list and assess the property according to the best information obtainable and shall add to the taxable valuation one hundred percent thereof, which valuation and penalty shall be separately shown, and shall constitute the assessment; and if the valuation of the property is changed by a board of review or an appeal from a board of review, a like penalty shall be added to the valuation thus fixed.
There are many things you should report to your local assessor like:
• New buildings
• Buildings removed, torn down or damaged by fire or flood
• Remodeling (interior and exterior)
• Additions to house or buildings
• New furnace/central air
• Mobile homes
• Basement or attic finish
• Decks, patios, garages
• Please call your local assessor's office to report any changes to your property. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.
The assessor is charged with several administrative and statutory duties: however the primary duty and responsibility is to cause to be assessed all real property within his/her jurisdiction except that which is otherwise provided by law. This would include residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural classes of property. Real property is revalued every two years. The effective date of the assessment is January 1st of the current year. The Assessor determines a full or partial value of new construction or improvements depending upon the state of completion as of January 1st.
What the Assessor Does NOT Do
The Assessor does NOT:
• Collect Taxes • Calculate Taxes • Determine Tax rate • Set policy for the Board of Review
The Assessor is concerned only with VALUE, not TAXES
Taxing jurisdictions such as county, school, cities and townships, adopt budgets after public hearings. This determines the tax levy, which is the rate of taxation required to raise the money budgeted. The taxes you pay are proportionate to the value of your property compared to the total value of the taxing district in which your property is located.
Reducing Property Tax Liability
There are ways to lower property taxes by challenging property tax assessments when they are found to be inequitable or erroneous. Although the assessor has no hand in budget spending within a taxing district, they do determine the assessed value of all real property, and in some states personal property.
Property tax bills are generated to support city/county services to taxpayers. Basically, the bill is generated by multiplying the assessed value of a property times the tax rate for the district where the property is located.
Taxpayers who can demonstrate that the assessed value on a given property is too high can possibly lower the tax bill for that property.
Detailed below are six simple, but effective actions taxpayers can take in order to make a successful argument to lower the assessed value on their property:
1. Review the current assessment from the county assessor's office and look for obvious errors with regard to size, description or condition of the property in question.
2. Compare the assessed value of the property in question with similar properties in the same neighborhood and look for discrepancies. Assessments are public information and are available at the city/county assessor's office or via internet access through the assessor's web site.
3. Check recent sales prices of homes in the same neighborhood that are similar to the property in question. These prices are also public information or can be obtained from a local Realtor or via internet access to the assessor's web site.
4. Have a new appraisal performed by a reputable certified appraiser.
5. List factors that could decrease the value of a property as of the assessment date. Factors that could lower a property's value are deteriorating condition, undesirable neighborhood influences like smells, air quality or heavy street traffic and declining market prices.
6. Be sure to take advantage of special exemptions. Some states provide tax reductions for veterans and senior citizens. Some states also provide reductions for historic buildings and special energy efficient systems. areas called urban revitalization or tax incremental financing districts also may provide some incentives for tax reduction.
Documentation of your case before an appeal board should include photographs of the property in question and a complete explanation of any detrimental factors affecting the property value.
You should contact your local assessment office for rules and procedures governing the assessed valuation appeal.