Frequently Asked Questions
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Doesn't the assessor raise my value according to the amount of taxes needed?
No, the Assessor raises or lowers the values of property according to the market value of real estate or in the case of agricultural land, according to productivity and CSR.
Assessments are set January 1st of each year, while the tax levies (tax rates) on these assessments are not set until July of the following year. (Example, the assessment notices from April 2021 were for the January 1, 2021 assessment. Tax levies for these values will be set in June of 2022 based on what the different taxing authorities budget in March and April 2022 for the next fiscal year of July 2022 - June 2023.)
The taxing authorities you pay property taxes to are listed at the bottom of your tax statement each year, along with their budget information and a breakdown of how much you are paying to each taxing body.
I disagree with my value. What can I do?
I would first recommend either looking at your property information on our Des Moines County Assessor website, or contacting our office, to see if we have everything listed correctly for your property. We will gladly provide a printout on your dwelling and/or buildings and explain how your value was determined. The Des Moines County Assessor's Beacon website is also a good place to find out how other comparable properties have sold.
If you still disagree with your value, there is an "Informal Agreement" period between April 2nd and April 25th. This process would involve a field appraiser coming out to look at your property to see if the value could possibly be adjusted so a formal protest with the Board of Review could be avoided. If an agreed upon value is reached, the Informal Agreement is signed by the aggrieved taxpayer and the value is changed for the current assessment year. This is merely an option; you may choose to go directly to the Board of Review with a timely filed, formal protest.
If no agreement can be made, or if you choose not to go this route, you may file a petition with the Des Moines County Board of Review. Petitions are available in the Assessor's Office or online at the county's web site or the Iowa Department of Revenue's web site. Petitions must be filed within the timeframe provided by the Code of Iowa. This is currently April 2nd to April 30th of any given year. The petitions are filed in the Assessor's Office.
The Board of Review will meet during the month of May. You may decide to have an oral hearing before the Board, or only decide to file your petition and submit any information you think is relevant to your petition. The Board will notify you by mail of their decision.
If you disagree with their decision, you may appeal within 20 days of the Board's adjournment, or May 31st, whichever is later. This date is usually May 31st. You may appeal to either the Property Assessment Appeal Board, or to Des Moines County District Court.
I own and farm 500 acres. Isn’t there something I need to sign up for now?
You are probably thinking of the Family Farm Tax Credit. This was required to be signed up every year by October 15th until 2001. If you signed up in 2001 or after, you do not have to sign again. However, if you have acquired more agricultural land after you last signed up, you will need to sign an application for the newly acquired land. Applications can be filed anytime. However, those filed after November 1st will be applied to the next year.
I served in the military. Am I eligible for the Military Service Property Tax Exemption?
There have been a number of changes by the Legislature in recent years that have expanded the eligibility for the Military Exemption on property taxes. Individuals that may not have been eligible in the past may qualify now. Visit our Credits and Exemptions page for more information and/or contact the Veterans Affairs Office.
I signed up for Homestead and/or Military credit last year. Why isn’t it on my taxes? Do I need to sign again?
It will depend on when you signed the application. Applications must be signed on or before July 1st of the assessment year that you are first claiming the credit. If it is signed after July 1st, the credit is applied to the next assessment year.
Please remember that property taxes due are 18 months behind the current assessment year. For example, the current property taxes payable in September 2021 and March 2022 are calculated on the 2020 assessment year and values. If you signed up after July 1, 2020, but on or before July 1, 2021, your credit will be applied to the 2021 assessments on which the taxes will be calculated for the September 2022 and March 2023 payments. If you signed up after July 1, 2021, your credit will be applied to the 2022 assessments, which will be used for the September 2023 and March 2024 property taxes.
Homestead and military credits were at one time applied for every year. In the mid-1980s, this was changed to a one-time sign-up. However, you do still have to sign up if you move to another house, even if it is next door or across the street.
What are tax levies and assessed values?
There are a number of different taxing districts in a jurisdiction, each with a different levy. Each year the County Auditor determines for that district a levy that will yield enough money to pay for schools, police and fire protection, road maintenance, and other services budgeted for in that area. The tax levy is applied to each $1,000 of a property's taxable value.
The value determined by the assessor is the assessed value and is the value indicated on the assessment roll. The taxable value is the value determined by the auditor after application of state ordered "rollback" percentages for the various classes of property, with other properties always compare with the value on the assessment roll of the assessor's property record cards and not the value indicated on the tax statement.
What is a "rollback"?
The "rollback" is the percentage of actual value that is determined by the Director of Revenue and Finance each year on the several classes of property where the total value increase statewide, exceeds three percent for each class of property. The percentage so determined by the Director of Revenue and Finance is certified to and applied by the local County Auditor to all property in each class affected throughout the State. Percentages determined by the Director of Revenue and Finance are the same for all the assessing jurisdictions in the State.
Increases in assessed value of individual parcels of property, as determined by the Assessor, may exceed four percent within a jurisdiction. Agricultural property, except agricultural dwellings, are assessed on the basis of productivity and net earning capacity using a five-year crop average and capitalized at a rate set by the Legislature. The rate is currently seven percent. Tentative and final equalization orders are issued by the Director of Revenue and Finance in odd-numbered years on or about August 15 and October 1, respectively. The orders are sent to the various County Auditors who apply them to the classes of property affected if any.
Why do values change?
State law requires that all real property be reassessed every two years. The current law requires the reassessment to occur in odd-numbered years. Changes in market value as indicated by research, sales ratio studies, and analysis of local conditions as well as economic trends both in and outside the construction industry are used in determining your assessment.