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Understanding Assessment Of Land And Structures

Last updated on Saturday, January 12, 2013

(UNDATED) - Lawrence County residents have received their notice of assessment of land and structures in the mail and some are not happy and most don’t like paying more taxes.

No one likes to pay taxes, but they are necessary to fund the many city, township, county and state services we all use.

According to the Lawrence County Assessor, residents pay state taxes via four basic avenues. A sales tax of 7 percent and an income tax of 3.4 percent account for the greatest portion of state funds. An excise tax is leveled on motor vehicles, alcohol, tobacco and gasoline, and then there's the property tax, the sum of rates established by local boards and units that require approval by the Indiana General Assembly.

Property taxes are determined after an assessment and reassessment process, where assessors place a value on your property. Until this recent reassessment, an official property examination had not been done since 2002.

That value is placed after assessors measure buildings and record physical characteristics. They also will talk to landowners if they are home during the assessment and will photograph the buildings.

The data is entered into a mass-appraisal software system, which prices the parcel based on cost tables supplied by the Department of Local Government Finance. Cost tables were amended for the 2012 reassessment since the prior tables were based on 1999 building costs.

Collins says residential building value comes from square footage, plumbing fixtures, heat types, air conditioning, number of stories, exterior finish, interior finish, exterior features (such as porches, wood decks and patios), design features and extras such as elevators and fireplaces.

Yard structures are valued by square footage, construction material, finish and design. Many adjustments can be made to commercial and farm buildings, and each is unique according to the features that particular building possesses. This is often referred to as the cost approach.

Collins says after the cost approach value is initially calculated it is adjusted to the final assessed value by applying what is referred to as the neighborhood trending factor.

This is determined through a market analysis of sales for Lawrence County. The trend factor brings assessed values more in line with a market value-in-use, which is the assessment standard for Indiana. Those values are set by state legislature.

Beginning in 2014, assessors will start what is being referred to as a rolling reassessment. They will reassess 25 percent of the parcels each year. Basically, each county in the state will be constantly reassessing properties.

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