Off-Year Property Tax Planning in Tennessee ... Should You Tee-up an Appeal?

On the heels of the Masters, we thought it an appropriate time to look at our own property ... tax matters. While the property we are talking about might not be as pristine as the grounds at Augusta National and Amen corner, it is no less important this time of the year, especially in Tennessee.

Property tax appeals are primarily driven by reassessment years in Tennessee, which places new valuations on property and puts a bulls eye on every taxpayer during the reappraisal cycle. That generally happens in Tennessee every four or five years (sometimes 6). Last year was the reassessment year in Nashville, Tennessee and in many other Tennessee counties, but what about the offseason? What happens then when it is not a reappraisal period? Is there anything that taxpayers need to be thinking about as we approach the annual deadlines to file appeals with local boards of equalization in Tennessee. Well, there are a few things that should still be on the radar of Tennessee property taxpayers when deciding whether to tee-up an appeal...

Personal Property Tax Filings

Business taxpayers that filed personal property tax returns in late February should be watching the mail for change notices. If you took a position on a filing, you should be extra cautious as change notices are what provide notice to taxpayers that that the assessor may have rejected the filing and that an appeal may be necessary. If you get to late May and haven't seen a change notice, a call to the Assessor might be in order just to be safe, and if you do get the change notice that is not what was filed, an appeal to the local board should be sought.

You Missed Last Year's Deadline

Reappraisal years establish the valuation for the year of reappraisal and for the following three years, but if for some reason the deadline was missed in 2017, it doesn't mean that you cannot still appeal the value from 2017 for the 2018 tax year. If that is you, and you didn't get your opportunity to appeal in 2017 (for whatever reason), you can tee up an appeal for 2018 with the local board. To do that, you will need to request a meeting with the local board. The dates on which the local boards meet is much more truncated in the off-years, so taxpayers should be particularly proactive in making sure that they are tracking the deadlines in their county so as not to miss the deadline again...

You Appealed Last Year and Still Don't Have a Hearing for the 2017 Year

This could be an overwhelming majority of appeals that made it to the state board last year. While there is a basis for concluding that the valuation appeal for 2017 should carry over to the subsequent years, it may be worth the effort to make sure that an appeal for the subsequent tax years is filed just as a protective filing. As we have written numerous times, the deadlines in Tennessee are just as onerous as the tax law, likely more onerous, so making sure you avoid procedural foot-faults should be a priority. Filing an appeal for subsequent years is often just a filing out of an abundance of caution, but when the amounts are significant, it may be worth the effort.

The appeal deadlines are set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. 67-5-1401 et.seq. for your casual reading!