Check or Checkmate? With Property Tax Decisions Coming Out in Tennessee, What is Your Next Move?

Chess is a two-person board game of strategy that is believed to have originated in India during the 7th century. For those who have played, you know there are a number of rules that dictate what you can and cannot do with your king, queen, rooks, knights, bishops and pawns.  Without understanding these varied rules, players will inevitably find themselves making mistakes that will ultimately lead to certain defeat and the dreaded words ... checkmate.

Rewind to Earlier Most Famous Post: Most Famous Chess Player - Garry Kasparov.

Tennessee's property tax statutes and the process established to appealproperty tax assessments can be equally as daunting as knowing the rules and strategy of chess. Decisions are routinely issued against taxpayers, upholding property tax assessments when the taxpayer just did not know the various rules and deadlines that govern the property tax appeal process. This is a good time to be reminded of this reality as Davidson County (Nashville), Tennessee and many other Tennessee counties are in reappraisal cycles in 2017.

The first step in the appeal process started back in April when notices of assessments were issued, and to proceed with an appeal (at least in Davidson County), an appeal to the local board had to be requested by July 23. One taxpayer called me on July 25th and had not requested the appeal. Result ... checkmate for 2017, and a new game will start in 2018. (Note that there was no reasonable cause basis for missing the deadline other than life. See below.)

For taxpayers that requested appeals to local boards of equalization, Davidson County is now issuing decisions in early September. Check? Nope ... not so fast. 

The rules applicable to appeals provide a 45-day window within which a taxpayer can appeal an adverse ruling from the local board of equalization tothe Tennessee Board of Equalization. For Davidson County Appeals, this will mean an appeal to the State Board will need to be filed in mid-0ctober.

Miss that 45-day deadline, and you guessed right ... checkmate again, unless the taxpayer can establish a reasonable cause basis for missing this appeal deadline (death, disaster, destruction, or some other catastrophe that prevented an appeal - sometimes being mislead by the assessor can be a reasonable basis for a late appeal).  Regardless of these rare situations, taxpayers do not want to be in a position of arguing why missing the deadline was reasonable, because the burden to establish reasonable cause is a high one, and there are numerous decisions every year where taxpayers do not get to argue the substance or value of their appeal because they simply missed the deadline.

Do not let your opponent (the Tax Assessor) get you in checkmate. Take steps now to evaluate your property tax appeals, so that you will be in a position to reverse the tables and stare at the assessor at the appeal with a smirk on your face when it is you, the taxpayer, that gets the satisfaction of declaring ... CHECKMATE!