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The assessment notice you receive in January of each year contains instructions and deadline dates for appeals to the Department of Real Estate Valuation. If you do not receive a notice due to no change in assessment the dates to appeal can be found on the City of Salem Real Estate Department website and in the local paper. Appeals to the Real Estate Department last until the end of January and the deadline to appeal to the Board of Equalization is mid-February. The Board of Equalization will meet in early April in order to allow 45 days between the deadline to appeal to the board and when they meet in order to satisfy state statute.
The real estate department will provide copies of all assessment records pertaining to the assessor's determination of fair market value at the owner's or owner's authorized agent's request.
You must file an appeal before the deadlines to make a valid appeal.
The first thing you need to do is decide for yourself what you think your property is worth. You can do this by looking at comparable sales of properties like yours, contacting appraisers, and comparing assessments on similar properties to yours. Sales and assessment information is available at recent property sales and in the Real Estate Department office and opens to public inspection during regular business hours. Assessment information for all properties is available on this website by using the Property Data Search feature or by obtaining copies in person by visiting the Real Estate Department.
The first step is to contact the appraiser in the Department of Real Estate Valuation who covers the area where your property is located. During this informal session, you can find out how the assessment was made and what information is available about your property. After this review, if you still think the assessment on your property is incorrect the next step is to file a formal appeal in the office. The appeal form (PDF) must be filed with the Department of Real Estate Valuation on or before the deadline. Appeal forms are available in the Real Estate Office and available online. If you cannot come to the office a form can be emailed to you. Once a written appeal is made, an appraiser from the office will request an inspection of your property. During that inspection, you may point out to the appraiser any information or factors that might affect the value of the property.
Appeal Form Instructions (PDF)
After the inspection, you will receive written notification of the decision with regard to the property value of your property.
An assessment appeal is not a complaint about higher taxes. You must attempt to prove that your property's market value is either inaccurate or unfair. You may appeal based on the following:
The Board of Equalization is a five-member citizen panel, appointed by the Circuit Court. If you do not agree with the appeal decision by the Department of Real Estate Valuation, then it is the Board's duty to hear evidence from the taxpayer and the assessor to decide if the assessment is correct. Your appeal to the Board also must be in writing. The Department of Real Estate can provide you with the forms for an appeal to the Board of Equalization and make appointments for you to appear before the Board. The Board of Equalization is independent of the Department of Real Estate and establishes its own deadlines and procedures based on the Code of Virginia.
State law puts the burden of proof on the property owner to show that the assessment is incorrect. You must have strong enough evidence to show that the assessor's value is incorrect. Stating that your property taxes are too high is not relevant testimony. You need to establish what you think your property is worth. The best evidence of this would be to compare recent sales of similar properties. You may also bring any appraisals you have done on your property. And finally, you can show that similar properties have inequitable values.
The final step in the appeals process is to file suit in the Circuit Court. This will usually involve the hiring of an attorney to represent you in the matter.