Unbeknownst to many Ohioans, on August 3, Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate 57 bill that may help real estate taxpayers who believe the value of their property has declined as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The law explicitly allows eligible taxpayers to file a special COVID-19 complaint with their district audit committee, which requires that the tax assessment of a property for the tax year 2020 be determined from October 1, 2020 instead of January 1, 2020 When this new law was passed, real estate taxpayers were only allowed to file one complaint in each three-year assessment period if they disagreed with their tax base. However, the new law allows a property taxpayer to file a COVID-19 complaint even if they have already filed a standard dispute over the value of their property.
In order for a property taxpayer to take advantage of this particular COVID-19 relief, the taxpayer must provide evidence that the property’s value is due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic or a COVID-19-related order from the governor or state The special complaint must be submitted on or before September 2, 2021 and the special complaint must in particular explain how the COVID-19-related circumstances caused the property to decrease in value.
After the complaint is filed, the taxpayer will be scheduled for the Zoom hearing at a later date. If a COVID-19 complaint is successful, the Audit Committee adjusts the property’s tax base, which then changes the taxes payable in 2021. For those taxpayers who file a successful complaint and have already paid their taxes for 2021, the county auditor should reimburse the taxpayer for the amount the taxpayer overpaid.
While both commercial and residential property taxpayers can file a special complaint, it can be difficult for a residential property owner to demonstrate that the value of their property should be reduced due to the pandemic, as home value has generally remained strong during the pandemic. This means that the new complaints program is likely to benefit commercial property owners rather than homeowners, as many commercial property owners have suffered income losses as a result of the pandemic.
In addition to the tax breaks described above, the same law allows an exemption from property tax for homes primarily used by people diagnosed with mental illness or substance use disorder and their families. To qualify, the property must use the property to provide housing, rent the property to and provide support services to people with mental illness or substance use disorders, or rent the property to a nonprofit organization
It is important that any taxpayer and / or property owner who wishes to file a COVID-19 special complaint carefully reviews the specifications and requirements of the new law prior to filing, as a complaint can be dismissed without notice if a complainant fails to provide all the information Documents and information requested with the initial complaint. Additionally, taxpayers with real estate negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or government COVID-19 regulations should quickly consult with appraisers and legal counsel to determine if a special 2020 tax complaint is in their best interests as there are specific 2020 complaints must be submitted between July 26, 2021 and September 2, 2021.
Andrew Zashin writes about law for the Cleveland Jewish News. He is co-managing partner of Zashin & Rich with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.
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