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Brace yourself: Property tax assessments are coming soon. Here’s how much they’ll go up

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Posted at 3:35 PM, May 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-09 17:35:51-04

This article was originally written by Rachel Spacek for the Idaho Statesman.

Ada and Canyon County property tax assessments will be mailed out this month, and homeowners should expect to see a substantial increase compared with last year.

Home sale prices skyrocketed in the Treasure Valley last year, leading to one of the largest increases in property tax assessments ever seen in Ada and Canyon counties.

Ada County Assessor Bob McQuade told the Idaho Statesman that he was nearly speechless looking at the numbers.

But, he said, “People who are paying attention are not going to be surprised at all, based on the way sales prices have been increasing this year. They might have even thought it was going to be more more than that.”

Ada County residents can expect to see about a 28% increase in their property tax assessments this year. Canyon County residents will see around 30%.

That is the largest increase McQuade said he has seen since he was elected coroner in 1994. Canyon County Assessor Brian Stender said 30% was the largest increases he has seen since he was elected in 2017. He said the increase is similar to what he saw in 2014, which was 30% to 35% in Nampa and Caldwell.

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More and more rooftops are encroaching on the rural landscape of Star and nearby Middleton. Growth has been one of the top issues facing the two communities in the past two decades, and now property tax assessments are on the rise. Ada County tax assessments are increasing 28%, and Canyon County 30%, this year.

The median home sales price increase was 26% in Ada County last year, McQuade said. This year the average property tax assessment is within 2% of the median sales price, he said.

In Canyon County the average home sales price rose about 30%, Stender said. That matches the average assessment increase, he said.

Idaho law requires the assessor’s office to have assessments within 10% of actual sales price values. That didn’t happen last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn that followed the virus outbreak. Both county assessors were not as aggressive in the single-family residential assessments, because they expected the market to slow.

In Ada County, McQuade last year increased assessments on average by 5.5%, instead of the average sales price increase of 10%. That left the county at 94% to 95% of actual market value.

In Canyon County, Stender increased the assessments by an average of 10% last year. That increase put them at 90% of actual market value.

“We barely passed,” said Joe Cox, chief deputy assessor for Canyon County.

The assessors expected the market to slow. Things did not go as planned. Sales shot up around this time last year and continued through the rest of the year.

This year, Canyon County made sure to match the actual sales price because it had some “catch up” to do, Cox said.

Ada County assessments will be around 97% to 98% of the of the sales price and Canyon County around 99 to 100%

In Canyon County, Stender said homeowners living between Middleton and Star may be among those to see the highest assessed value increases, around 50%.

“A 50% increase is the largest increase I’ve seen,” Stender said.

Many of the smaller cities in Canyon County will see increased assessments, Stender said. Wilder leads the pack, he said, with a 30% to 35% increase.

“They have such a limited supply, so when something comes on the market, there are a lot of buyers, and so the price gets pushed up,” he said.

To determine assessments, the county assessor’s office looks at home sales prices in an area, such as the North End or Nampa, and then applies them to all homes in that area. There were about 13,000 sales in Ada County in 2020.

The 28% and 30% increases are countywide averages, so some homeowners may see greater or lesser increases.

Even though property tax assessments are going up by around 28 to 30% on average, that doesn’t mean property tax bills will increase by that much. The city councils, county commissions and other taxing districts will determine what the bills will look like when they set their budgets.

Cities, counties, school districts and other taxing districts will set their budgets for the next year around October. Homeowners will receive their property tax bills in November.

The property tax assessments for commercial businesses in Ada County also increased an average of 28%, McQuade said. In Canyon County, commercial property tax assessments increased 14% to 15%, Stender said.

Both assessors were unsure how the property tax burden will be shared between homeowners and businesses.

In 2020, homeowners in Ada County paid 72% of the taxes collected, while commercial and agriculture property owners paid 28%. In Canyon County, homeowners in 2020 shouldered 68% of the tax burden, while residential and commercial paid 32%, according to the Assessor’s Office.

Some reprieve may be coming to homeowners this year from the Idaho Legislature. A House bill from Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star, which passed the Senate on Wednesday, would increase the homeowner’s exemption by 25% to $125,000. The bill now awaits Gov. Brad Little’s signature.

Some state lawmakers and local government officials say 25% is not enough. On Wednesday, before the bill passed the Senate, Stender said he hoped the bill would get amended to provide a 50% increase to the homeowner’s exemption.