FAQs

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What is my assessment?

You may look up the information yourself on this site using the new, easy-to-use Assessor's Property Search Database. If you prefer, call the Assessor's Office at (608) 755-3045. They will ask you for the address, look it up, and tell you the property's assessment.

How do I contact the Assessor’s Office?

City Assessor’s Office
City of Janesville
P.O. Box 5005
Janesville, WI 53547-5005
Phone (608) 755-3045
Fax (608) 755-3196

What is the purpose of the City Assessor’s Office?

The City Assessor’s Office has one main goal: Ensure a quality assessing program that the community has confidence in.
Specifically, the department will:

  • Provide professional accurate collection and analysis of property data to insure a fair and equitable value setting outcome. 
  • Provide Janesville property owners with sufficient information so that they may understand the assessment process and also encourage their participation in the process.
  • Ensure that Janesville property owners’ participation in the process is handled with the highest level of professional courtesy and integrity.

What does the City Assessor’s Office do?

The City Assessor’s Office has three major duties; to collect data, verify the data, and use that data to value each residential and commercial property in the City. The Assessment Office checks to make sure measurements, ownership, and other property information is correct and current.

Must the Assessor Have Special Training for the Job?

Statutes require assessors be certified by the Department of Revenue. Certification involves an examination testing the individual’s knowledge of appraisal and assessment law and administration. While there is no formal training required, an assessor must show, through successful completion of the certification examination, that they have acquired the knowledge essential to do a satisfactory job. In addition, many full-time assessors in Wisconsin are active in professional organizations with established professional standards for assessors and appraisers.

Why does the City value my property?

Every year, each local government district (City, Village, Township) is required to establish a value for each taxable parcel within their jurisdiction. Those values are subsequently used in the process of distributing and collecting the property tax.

How is property valued?

Wisconsin Law requires property assessments to be based equitably on fair market value. Estimating the market value of your property is a matter of determining the price a typical buyer would pay for it in its present condition. Your assessment is based on two things: 1) detailed information about your property and 2) local real estate market conditions.

If you have taken out a building permit or recently purchased your home, you may remember being visited by a representative of the Assessor’s Office some time in the last year or two. The representative, or “data collector”, came to your property to gather information about its size, age, number of rooms, when it was last sold, etc. At the same time, Assessment Office appraisers were researching local market conditions that impact your property’s value --- such as building materials and labor costs, depreciation factors, and local real estate sales.

The findings of the property inspections and market analysis are then entered into the City’s Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) software. The result: An estimate of your property’s fair market, or appraised value.

Who determines the assessed value of property?

The assessor determines the assessed value of all taxable property, with the exception of manufacturing property. The Department of Revenue makes the annual assessment of all manufacturing property in the state.

What are special assessments?

Your tax bill may contain a special assessment for some type of public work, such as sewer, water, street, alley, sidewalk, etc. The assessor does not make special assessments. They are based on the cost of the improvement or the repair and billed only to properties benefiting from the work. If you have a question about a special assessment, you should contact the City Clerk.

What is Personal Property?

All business owners, including home occupations, must annually fill out Personal Property Tax forms, which are available from the Assessor’s Office. This does not include manufacturing uses, which the State Department of Revenue assesses. For questions or assistance in filling out the form, contact the Assessor’s Office at (608)755-3045. Each January the Assessor’s Office mails personal property forms to all known businesses. Forms must be completed by the property owner and returned to the Assessor’s Office by March 1st. This activity is followed by the sending of assessment notices and the holding of informal and formal discussions with property owners on proposed assessments.

What is the process in Janesville used to value properties?

Each year the Assessor must prepare an Assessment Roll. The major events in each annual assessment cycle are as follows:

  • Data collection via home visits and sale information
  • Data entry into the computer database
  • Testing and verification of data entry
  • Estimating property values and listing those in the Assessment Roll
  • Open book sessions to allow citizen review of values and presentation of additional information to Assessor’s Office if they believe estimates are inaccurate.
  • Board of review sessions to allow citizens to present appeal to an impartial board if they still believe estimates are inaccurate.
  • Adoption of values

You didn’t visit my property why did my value change?

The law requires that property be valued from actual view or the best information available. The Assessor’s Office attempts to physically review all property at least once every 5 years. If for various reasons the Assessor cannot enter a property, the assessment must still be reviewed based on the existing records and other sources of property information. If physical data supporting a value change is discovered, the Assessor is required to change the value. The Assessor’s preference is always to be able to physically inspect a property rather than be required to estimate its value based on old data or other sources of information.

How can my assessment change when I haven’t done anything to my property?

As property values change in the market place, those changes must be reflected on the assessment roll. Periodically, the Assessor reviews real estate market factors to determine if economic conditions are causing property to appreciate, depreciate, or if conditions are static. During revaluation years, the findings of such analysis may result in a change in property assessments regardless of any physical changes to a property.

Why did my assessments change at a different rate than someone else I know who lives in Janesville?

There are many factors used to arrive at a property’s assessed value. Even subtle differences between individual properties and between neighborhoods can cause assessments to change at different rates resulting in varied dollar changes from property to property. Market factors (sale prices) also vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and style of home. Thus, it is possible that there may be value increases in one area of the city while values are stable or declining in another. For example, one-story houses near a new elementary school may be more in demand than two-story houses, or vice-versa. Older homes in the same area may be rising in value more slowly than newer homes. There are numerous factors to be considered in each property, which will cause the values to differ. Some of the factors which can affect value are: location, condition, siding, basement finish, garages, bathrooms, deck or porch, and many others.

Why is the City’s assessed value different from a private appraiser’s estimate of fair market value I obtained recently?

In general, both estimates of value are arrived at using the same general principals, but can result in different figures because the purpose of each is different. The private (fee) appraiser is completing a site specific single property appraisal usually for a mortgage lender as an estimate of the property’s value on that specific date for use in determining the appropriateness of a proposed loan. The City Assessor’s Office is completing a mass appraisal of approximately 24,000 assessable properties at once in order to value all properties for tax equity purposes. The fee appraiser typically arrives at a value by comparing your property to three similar properties that have recently sold and then adjusting those sales prices based on the way yours differs from those properties. The Assessor’s Office generates a value for your property by first calculating the cost to replace your home with an identical new home and then adjusting that Replacement Cost New value for age and condition depreciation, and in revaluation years, appreciation associated with market conditions (comparing to potentially hundreds of sale properties).

In addition to variations in the process, another major factor resulting in different values is the date of the fee appraisal versus the date of the City assessment. By law, the assessed value should represent the market value as of January 1st of the most recent revaluation year. The private appraisal will specify the actual date of the value estimate. Thus, in periods of an active real estate market, it is logical that a 1 January 2002 assessment will vary from a private appraisal completed on 12 December 2002 or some other date after the assessment date.

What is the difference between assessed value and equalized value?

State law recognizes that every municipality cannot be assessed exactly at market value each year. The law only requires that any given municipality assess all its major classes (residential and commercial) within 10 percent of market value once in any 5 year period, so long as there is equity in assessments within that municipality. Thus, because assessment ratios to market value can vary between cities, towns, and villages, it is necessary for the Department of Revenue to convert the assessed values for each jurisdiction within a county to a uniform level. These uniform values are called equalized values because all the various local levels of assessment have been equalized or converted to equal 100 percent of market value. The equalized values are used for apportioning county property taxes, public school taxes, vocational school taxes, and for distributing property tax relief.

If a property sells, can the Assessor change the assessment to the sale price?

The Assessor must review the sale and make the decision in accordance with Wisconsin statutes and Wisconsin case law. Typically, the sale price is strongly considered if the sale is between two unrelated parties, and the property was customarily advertised for sale on the open market. The Assessor must also consider the sale date relative to the assessment date and any modifications that may have occurred to the property before or after the sale. In general, however, a valid sale price is a good indicator of the property's value.

Will I be notified if there is a change in my assessment?

Yes. The notice must be in writing and mailed at least 15 days prior to the Board of Review meeting. The notice contains the amount of the changed assessment and the time, date, and place of the local Board of Review meeting. The notice must include information notifying the owner of the procedures to be used to object to the assessment.

How can I find out about my assessment?

The assessment for each property is listed in books called assessment rolls that are open for examination at the office of the Clerk or the Assessor during regular office hours. In many districts, each property is identified by a parcel number that also appears on your tax bill. Your name should also appear on the assessment roll opposite the legal description of your property. Properties other than your own may be viewed as well.

Is my property assessment fair, accurate and equitable?

The City uses a CAMA (computer assisted mass appraisal) system to produce property values. The simplified description of that is “a giant calculator”. Physical property data and other value factors collected and monitored by Assessment staff are entered into the calculator and it completes the math. Thus, in general, your property has been assessed equitably since the value has been arrived at using the same principals, practices, and math used to estimate the values of all other properties within the city. Your assessment is accurate if the data that was used for your property is correct. That is why the Assessment staff periodically requests to inspect properties and update data. Uniformity of assessment within each class of property and between the classes is another indicator of equity. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue annually reviews the assessment levels by class for each jurisdiction. In summary, if your assessment is accurate, equitable, and uniform, then it is a fair estimate of the value of your property.

So how can you tell if your assessment is accurate you still ask? The best indicator is that if your house is assessed at a value equal to or less than the range of values that similar homes in your area of the city are currently selling for, that is a pretty good indicator that your assessment is accurate. Remember that for every style of home in every area of the city, there will be homes at the top of the sale price or assessment range and homes at the low end of the sale price or assessment range. If you believe that your assessment is outside of the range of what similar homes are selling for or that they are assessed at, then you should visit with the Assessor staff during Open Book to confirm that their data is accurate.

Can property be assessed higher or lower than market value?

Wisconsin law recognizes the difficulties in maintaining annual market value assessments and therefore requires each municipality to assess all property within 10 percent of market value once every five years. Requiring municipalities to assess at or near market value makes it easier for taxpayers to determine whether their assessments are equitable. Each year your property tax bill provides a comparison of the property’s assessment to market value.

Why is my waterfront property assessed higher than non-waterfront property of similar style and condition?

Waterfront property is frequently considered more desirable than property not on the water. The fixed supply and attractiveness of waterfront property generally increases the market value of your property and, hence, are reflected in your assessment. This situation may also occur with other factors such as when a property adjoins public open space like parks and greenbelts or school grounds.

What is a Revaluation?

A revaluation is a city-wide complete and thorough review of all assessments. During a revaluation, the Assessor attempts to physically inspect all properties and review all assessments. Value adjustments are made where necessary to guarantee that all property is assessed at market value. This is done to assure that taxes are distributed equitable and uniformly.

Why would a Revaluation be necessary?

Beginning in 1986, The Department of Revenue (DOR) requires that all property be assessed at or near 100% of the fair market value. The DOR requires that the assessed value of a taxation district must be established within 10% of the full value at least once during the four year period consisting of the current year and the three preceding years.

The law states that if taxation districts have not met this requirement the DOR will notify the taxation district in writing that they are not in compliance and give the district one year to meet market value (+ or – 10%) requirement. A city-wide revaluation is usually then completed to meet that requirement.

Why is my property being visited?

Wisconsin Law requires property assessments based on actual view or, when that is not possible, by the best information available. Site visits result in the most accurate, fair and equitable assessment. Thus, the Assessor’s Office systematically attempts to review properties.

What happens when someone visits my home?

The Property Assessor visiting your home verifies that the information on file at City Hall is accurate. This may include checking measurements of your home’s exterior, recent building, and decks; and also confirming quantity and quality data regarding home and features such as heating and cooling systems, the number of bathrooms, and the area of garages and sheds.

How long will the visit take?

The Inspector will only need 10-15 minutes to complete his review in a typical home. Reviewing a newly constructed home may take slightly longer.

What if I don’t allow a city employee to view the inside of my property?

The law requires that property be valued from actual view or the best information available. The Assessor keeps records on the physical characteristics of each property in the municipality. Even though the Assessor may have been unable to go through your property, the assessment will still be reviewed based on the existing records and other available sources of information including comparison to similar properties. Obviously, the estimating process is less desirable than valuing based on actual view. In addition, it is much more difficult for a property owner to contest an assessment if they have not allowed the Assessor to view their property.

Am I penalized for improving my property?

Wisconsin Law requires a property to be assessed based on fair market value. Generally speaking, improvements that increase the market value of a property will increase the assessed value. Those improvements also increase the properties functional use and the occupant’s quality of life. As such, although an improvement may increase your property assessment, it should also make the property a better place to live; and thus, you as the property owner must balance the cost to benefit of improvements. The following are typical items that will increase the assessed value of your property.

  • Added rooms, garages, sheds, decks and in-ground pools
  • Substantial modernization of kitchens or baths
  • Central air conditioning
  • Extensive remodeling

Am I penalized for repairing or maintaining my home?

Good maintenance will help retain the market value of your property. Generally, your assessment will not be increased for individual minor repairs such as these:

  • Replacing gutters/downspouts
  • Repairing/replacing roof
  • Repairing porches/steps
  • Exterior painting
  • Interior redecorating such as paint, wallpaper, home furnishings and re-carpeting.

What is Open Book?

Once the Assessor creates the preliminary tax roll, it is submitted to the City Clerk and “open for inspection.” This Open Book period is the time between the submittal of the preliminary tax roll and the formal Board of Review appeal hearing. It is used to allow property owners to review their assessment and meet with the Assessor and their staff if they have questions and want to exchange information about their property. Informal discussions with the Assessor can often resolve a problem and frequently eliminates the need for a formal hearing before the Board of Review.

Why meet with the City Assessment staff and how long does it take?

An informal discussion with the Assessor can often resolve a problem and frequently eliminates the need for a formal hearing before the Board of Review. The informal meeting serves to answer questions about the assessment process and to verify that the factual information the City has about your property is accurate. In general, it is not intended to be a negotiating session. The meeting will last between 15-30 minutes.
Before making an appointment, please take time to review information you have received from the Assessor’s Office and the information you have about your property. Familiarize yourself with the assessment process as much as possible. In order to allow each property owner to participate in the informal process if they choose to, appointments are required and will be limited to 30 minutes. Each property owner is allowed one meeting so make sure you are prepared for your meeting. If you own multiple properties that you wish to discuss, you should inform the Assessor’s Office of the number of properties you would like to cover when you call to arrange an appointment. Although you will still be limited to one meeting, the time allotted will be extended to accommodate the number of properties to be covered. Please be prepared to discuss each property.

When preparing, these are a few good places to start:
1. City Assessor’s website www.ci.janesville.wi.us
2. State Department of Revenue www.dor.state.wi.us
3. Various printed information is available by calling the City Assessor’s Office (608) 755-3045 or the State Department of Revenue (608) 266-2772.

What happens during the meeting?

During the meeting, you and a property appraiser will make sure that the Assessor’s Office data for items such as the size, age, condition, number of bathrooms, and other physical characteristics of your property are correct. You can ask any question that will help you understand the assessment process. In addition, you will have the opportunity to present factual data to the appraiser regarding a different opinion of the value of your property. Examples of acceptable factual data include:

  • Copies of your building plan with dimensions.
  • A recent private appraisal for the property (2 years or less in age).
  • Recent interior and exterior photos of the property that illustrate that the overall physical condition (not housekeeping) of the property is in less than average expected condition for the age of the house.

Examples of items that might have a relationship to the assessed value include but are not limited to structural damage or impacts from major mistreatment of the building, major water leak problems, pest damage with records of treatment or long term deferred maintenance (roof, siding, or window replacement, and needs of similar character).

  • Information on the recent purchase of your property if that was completed within the past year, or information on the recent sale prices of homes within your general area of the city that you believe are very similar to your home in physical characteristics.
  • Other information: estimates for uncompleted repair or construction activities, receipts for completed repair or improvement projects, certified survey or plat maps delineating lot size and area, condemnation notice or orders to raze or repair, income and expense information and lease agreements (for income producing property), records of farm rents and crop production activities (for agricultural use valuation), or any other factual information that is relevant to the value of the property.

The primary purpose for the meeting is to allow you to exchange factual information with the Assessment staff, confirm their data, and learn more about the assessment process. The Appraiser involved in your meeting will not be reviewing the assessed value of your property, but instead they will be gathering data that will be used by a different appraiser to review your assessed value. That part of the process occurs following the conclusion of the meetings. You will be notified by mail in 4-5 weeks of the results of the completed property review.

Following the receipt of the findings from your meeting with the Assessment staff, if you still believe the assessment is not an accurate estimate of value, you may proceed to the Board of Review to present evidence as such. You may learn more about the Board of Review at the following website: www.dor.state.wi.us or by obtaining a brochure from the City Clerk’s Office (1-608-755-3070).

What is the Board of Review?

The Board of Review consists of 6 residents of the City. The City Clerk functions as the Board of Review clerk. The Board of Review has the duty of reviewing evidence provided by both the Assessor and property owner in support of their opinions on the value of the property and then ruling in favor of the best set of evidence and in compliance with the law. It is also the duty of the Board of Review to carefully examine the roll and correct all apparent errors in descriptions or computations, and to add any property to the roll that the assessor may have omitted. However, the Board of Review must notify the property owners concerned and hold hearings before omitted property can be added to the assessment roll and before any other lawful changes can be made.
Once the Assessor has valued the property, posted these values on the assessment roll, and signed the affidavit attached to the assessment roll, the values must be accepted as correct unless the testimony of sworn witnesses and the evidence they present indicate otherwise. The Board of Review is responsible for raising and lowering any incorrect valuations as well as correcting any errors in the roll. It is important to note that the Board’s function is not one of valuation, but of deciding the validity of the facts presented, under oath, before it. All deliberations must be done in open session and the Board of Review is required to decide each objection by a roll call vote. If the Board of Review votes to change an assessment, it must state on the record the amount of the correct assessment and that the correct assessment is reasonable in light of all relevant evidence received. Notices of the Board’s determinations are to be sent by certified mail to property owners as the Board completes its work.

When does the Board of Review Meet?

By law, the Board of Review must meet sometime in the 30 day period commencing on the 2nd Monday in May. If the Assessment Roll is not yet complete, the Board will adjourn to a date certain based on the anticipated completion date for the Assessment Roll and Open Book period. The Board meets in the Council Chambers. The Board must establish a time for hearing each properly filed objection. At least a 48-hour notice of the time of the hearing must be given to the objector or the objector’s agent and to the municipal attorney and Assessor.
For an individual property owner who protests an assessment, the Board of Review is the first step in the appeal process. The property owner cannot pursue subsequent appeals allowed by law unless they have first appealed before the Board of Review. It is therefore very important that a property owner pay close attention to the information mailed to them with their Notice of Assessment change regarding the time stated for the Board of Review meeting and associated application and notification deadlines.

Are there any Special Qualifications for Board of Review Members?

Yes. A Board of Review may not convene unless it includes at least one voting member who has attended a Board of Review training session within the 2 years prior to the Board’s first meeting. Each year, the City Clerk must provide an affidavit to the Department of Revenue stating whether the member training requirement has been fulfilled.

When Must I File The Written Objection to My Property Assessment?

This must be done 48 hours before the first meeting of the Board of Review. Under certain circumstances, the Board of Review may waive the 48-hour filing deadline. Upon showing of good cause and the submission of a written objection within the first 2 hours of the Board of Review’s first scheduled meeting, the Board will waive the 48-hour notice requirement. The Board may also waive the requirement up to the end of the fifth day of the Board of Review session if you submit proof of extraordinary circumstances for failing to meet the 48-hour notice and failing to appear during the first 2 hours of the first scheduled meeting. However, as a matter of record, it is recommended that this objection be filed in writing at least 48 hours before the Board’s first meeting. You must object to the total value of the property. You cannot object to only the land value or only the improvement value.

Can I exclude a board member from hearing my objection?

Yes. A person objecting to their assessment can request the removal of any one Board member for any reason and can also request the removal of any Board member whom the objector believes harbors a personal bias or prejudice against them. A request to remove a Board of Review member must be made at the time the person provides their written or oral notice of intent to file an objection. This notice must be made at least 48 hours before the first scheduled meeting of the Board of Review or at least 48 hours before the objection is heard if the Board waived the 48-hour notice requirement. Furthermore, the notice must identify the member(s) to be removed, state the nature of the bias or prejudice, and estimate the length of time the objection hearing will take. Board of Review members may be removed for other reasons. A municipality must remove any member of a Board of Review who has a conflict of interest under an ordinance of the municipality in regard to the objection.

What do I say to the board at the time of my hearing?

Assessment law establishes that the Assessor’s value is presumed correct unless the property owner provides compelling evidence that value is not correct. To have the assessment reduced, the owner must prove that the property is over assessed in comparison with similar property in the municipality. Wisconsin Statute 70.47(7)(ae) requires anyone planning to protest an assessment must provide the Board, in writing, their estimate of the total value of the property assessment they are objecting to and specific information that was used to arrive at that estimate. In particular, an objector should have considerable information that is relevant to the market value of their non-agricultural property. This would include a recent purchase price of the property and recent sales of comparable properties. Other factors include: size and location of the lot, size and age of the building, original cost, depreciation and obsolescence, zoning restrictions and income potential, presence or absence of various building components; and any other factors or conditions which affect the market value of the property. Remember that the Board’s sole responsibility is to review evidence regarding the value of the property. The Board will not discuss issues of property tax, municipal services, municipal employees or appointed or elected officials or any other subject that has no relationship to the value of the property.

Can I appeal the Board of Review’s decision?

Yes, there are two avenues of appeal of the Board of Review decision available to the property owner. One is to circuit court under Section 70.47(13) of the Wisconsin Statutes, and the other is to the Department of Revenue under Section 70.85. If a number of property owners feel that there are severe inequities in the entire assessment roll, they may appeal for a reassessment of the entire municipality under Section 70.75.

How would I appeal a Board of Review decision under Section 70.47(13)?

Section 70.47(13) provides for an appeal of a Board of Review determination to be by action of certiorari (a court order to review the written record of the hearing) to the circuit court. The court will not issue an order unless an appeal is made to the circuit court within 90 days after the taxpayer receives notification from the Board of Review. No new evidence may be submitted. The court decides the case solely on the basis of the written record made at the Board of Review. If the court finds any errors in the proceedings of the Board which make the assessment void, it sends the assessment back to the Board for further proceedings and retains jurisdiction of the matter until the Board has determined an assessment in accordance with the court’s order. Whenever the Board has made its final adjournment prior to the court’s decision, the court may order the municipality to reconvene the Board.

What are the procedures for appealing a Board of Review decision under Section 70.85?

When appealing a Board of Review decision under Section 70.85, a written complaint must be received by the Department of Revenue within 20 days after the taxpayer receives the Board’s determination, or within 30 days of the date specified in the affidavit under Section 70.47(12), if the taxpayer does not receive the notice. A filing fee of $100 must be submitted along with the complaint. Both real and personal property may be appealed under this section. The Department may not review the assessment if it is within 10 percent of the general level of assessment of all other property in the municipality, or if the property’s value exceeds $1,000,000 as determined by the Board of Review. The Department may revalue the property and equalize the assessment without the intervention of the Board of Review, if the revaluation can be accomplished before November 1 of the year in which the assessment is made or within 60 days of the receipt of the written complaint, whichever is later. The value, if adjusted by the Department, shall be substituted for the original value in the assessment and tax rolls and taxes computed and paid accordingly. Appeal of the Department’s decision can be made by an action for certiorari in the circuit court of the county in which the property is located.

What is the difference between reassessment, revaluation and a supervised assessment?

The term “reassessment,” as used in Section 70.75 of the statutes, means to completely redo the assessment roll. After receiving a petition, the Department of Revenue may order a reassessment of all or any part of the taxable property in a municipality, if its investigation determines that the assessments are not in compliance with the law. One or more persons would be appointed by the Department to prepare a new assessment roll. The assessment roll, after completion by the appointed person(s), is substituted for the original assessment roll. The municipality pays all expenses connected with a reassessment.

A “revaluation” occurs when the Assessor completes a comprehensive review of all assessments to insure that they reflect current market value and that they are equitable within and between classes of property (residential, commercial, agricultural, etc). A revaluation may also be completed in response to a Section 70.75 review, which then involves the hiring of expert help by a municipality to aid the Assessor in making new, equitable assessments. The previous year’s assessment roll is not affected. Under Section 70.055 of the statutes, the governing body of a municipality determines that it is in the public interest to employ expert help to aid in making a new assessment. The local Aassessor is not relieved of any responsibility of the office under this type of revaluation. The expert help and the Assessor act together as an assessment board in exercising the powers and duties of the Assessor during the expert’s employment.

A “supervised assessment” is an alternative to a reassessment. As provided in Section 70.75(3) of the statutes, one or more persons are appointed by the Department of Revenue to assist the Assessor in making the assessment for the following year. The Department supervises the assessment work. The municipality pays all costs involved in a supervised assessment. A supervised assessment is very similar to a revaluation under Section 70.055 in that new assessment records and assessed values are created. The previous year’s assessment roll is not affected.

What action is necessary to initiate a request for a reassessment?

Under Section 70.75 of the statutes, the owners of at least 5% of the assessed value of all property in the taxation district may file a written complaint with the Department of Revenue. Petition forms for a reassessment are available from the Department of Revenue, Bureau of Equalization. The basis of the complaint must be that the assessment of property in the taxation district is not in compliance with the law and that the public interest will be promoted by a reassessment.

Revaluations are expensive. Are they really necessary?

A complete revaluation of all taxable real and personal property within a municipality is periodically necessary. There may be several reasons for this: (1) state law requires that property assessments must be periodically recalculated so that at least once in every 5 year period the assessments are within 10% of true market value; (2) the current assessment may not have been made in substantial compliance with the law; (3) inequities may exist within classes of property; (4) inequities may exist between classes of property; (5) the governing body may desire an updating of records to show the physical characteristics of all its taxable real and personal property; or (6) a governing body may desire an original inventory of all its taxable property. When inequities happen, some property owners are paying more than their fair share of the property taxes and some are paying less. A complete reassessment or revaluation may be the only remedy. Most property owners are willing to pay the expenses of a revaluation to be assured that all are paying their fair share of property taxes. Regardless of any equity issues, state law regarding the ratio of assessment to market value will generally require that a community revalue at least once every 5 – 7 years.

What if I believe that my taxes are too high?

If your concern is your taxes, you should contact those responsible for spending decisions, generally consisting of elected city council, county board members, and school board members. These are the individuals who determine what services are to be provided and approve the spending that provides the desired services and result in your property taxes, not the Assessor. To find out more about taxes, visit the Finance and Administration Department.

How are the equalized values used?

The equalized values are used by the taxing jurisdictions (i.e., school districts, counties, state, etc.) to apportion their tax levies (budgets) among municipalities. “Apportioning” is the process of dividing the tax levies for each taxing jurisdiction among all of the properties in the jurisdiction, based upon the total value of each district. A state levy, for example, would be apportioned among all of the properties in the state; an individual county’s levy among all of the properties in the county; and a school levy among all of the properties in the school district. Equalization is required to compensate for the fact that at any point in time, different municipal jurisdictions assessment ratios are not all at 100% of market value. Equalization adjusts all property values to 100% in order to equally distribute the overlying property taxes fairly to each property owner. Example: If the City of Janesville’s assessment ratio is 89%, the City of Beloit’s 93% and the village of Clinton’s 77%, then the total value of each of those communities taxable property must be adjusted to 100% so that the County portion of the property tax is equally distributed. Otherwise, the portion of the county tax paid by each property owner would be unequally distributed.

Does each municipality make its own property tax laws?

No. Article VIII of the State Constitution requires that the taxation of property shall be uniform. Therefore, the state legislature enacts all the laws pertaining to property tax assessments and tax collection. Laws regarding exemptions from the general property tax are also exclusively determined by the state legislature. The state property tax assessment laws are covered in Chapter 70 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

I’ve been told that everybody’s taxes go up after a revaluation. Is this true?

No, it is not. If the total levy remains the same, only those properties that are not presently paying their fair share of the tax burden will pay more taxes after a revaluation. Properties presently paying more than their fair share will pay less.

What if I am ill or disabled and cannot attend the Board of Review?

The Board of Review can accept testimony by telephone, upon oath, from all ill or disabled persons. You must be prepared to present to the Board of Review a letter from your physician, surgeon, or osteopath that confirms your illness or disability. This letter would be best filed along with your objection form. Alternatively, you may designate a personal representative to appear before the Board on your behalf.

What is the definition of an Assessment?

 An assessment is the value placed upon your property by the Assessor. This value determines what portion of the local property tax levy will be borne by your property.

What is the definition of a Market Value?

Market value is defined as the amount a typical, well-informed purchaser would be willing to pay for a property. Some factors the Assessor considers are: what similar properties are selling for, what it would cost to replace your property, the rent it may earn, and any other factors that affect value.

What is the definition of a Discovering Property?

The Assessor must continually monitor changes in property ownership and configuration in order to maintain accurate maps identifying each parcel of land in the city and what improvements exist upon said lands. For example: A developer purchases 5 acres of farmland from a farmer and subsequently subdivides that land into 15 residential lost. Discovery is the process of insuring that the 15 new lots are identified as separate parcels and assessed accordingly as residential lots and no longer as farmland. Subsequently, the Assessor must monitor building permit requests to insure that any new homes constructed on those residential lots are added to the data base and valued.

What is the definition of a Listing Property?

Listing property involves recording data regarding the quantity and quality of each parcel of land and its improvements. It also involves maintaining accurate data on who owns each parcel (or who receives the tax bill). Because listing includes recording actual physical data on a property, it requires that a city assessment staff periodically visit properties to record new data or confirm existing data.

What is the definition of a Valuing Property?

Estimating the market value of your property is simply a matter of determining the price most people would pay for it in its present condition.

To find the value of any piece of property, the Assessor must first know what properties similar to it are selling for, what it would cost today to replace it, how much it takes to operate and keep it in repair, what rent it may earn, and many other dollar factors affecting its value, such as the current rate of interest charged for borrowing the money to buy or build properties like yours. Using these facts, the Assessor can then go about estimating the property’s value in three different methods: market approach, cost approach, or income approach.

What is the definition of a Market Approach?

The first way is to find properties like yours which have been sold recently. This is also referred to as the Sales Comparison Approach.

What is the definition of a Cost Approach?

The second way the Assessor can go about this is based on how much money it would take at current material and labor costs to replace your property with one just like it. For existing homes, this will generally also involve the application of depreciation factors.

What is the definition of an Income Approach?

The third method is used in addition to the other two if you happen to own property that provides you with a rental income, like an apartment house, a store, or an office building.

If your property is the home you live in, the third approach cannot be used since you derive no income from it.

What does the City Assessor’s Office do?

The City Assessor’s Office has three major duties: to discover, list, and estimate the value of all taxable property within the jurisdiction of the city. City employees collect information on all taxable property in Janesville except for manufacturing facilities. They check to make sure measurements, ownership, and other property information is correct and current. That data is used to estimate the value of each parcel. A contract appraisal firm reviews the values estimated through City data collection and valuation methods for accuracy and consistence prior to placement of them in the Assessment Roll.

My assessment notice says “Improvement” and I didn’t make any improvements?

By law, property assessments must include the value of the Land, the Improvement and the Total. In this context, the word Improvement means collectively all buildings, structures and features that have been constructed and remain on the property since the time it was last a vacant lot. It does not mean that any recent improvements have been made. Information on recent building changes, if any, will usually be listed on the Assessment Notice in the box called “Reasons for Change(s)”.