Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the relationship between the County Assessor, County Treasurer, and the County Board of Equalization?
The County Assessor establishes the assessed valuation on your property.
The County Treasurer calculates and collects taxes on your property based upon its assessed value.
The County Board of Equalization is a completely independent entity that handles the “appeal process and hearing” if your issues of your assessment valuation are not resolved between you and the Assessor.
2. What is the basic order of processes, procedures, and time frame of appeal?
- If you have assessment related issues and/or questions regarding your revaluation, or corrections please contact the County Assessor at 509-524-2560. Often, your issues can be resolved at that level.
- If your issues and/or questions are not resolved or satisfied through your contact with Assessor’s Office staff, you should file a Property Tax Petition (appeal form) with the Board of Equalization within 30 days from the date your revaluation (“Change of Value”) notice was postmarked. This ensures that all your rights to due process are protected.
- The Board of Equalization Clerk will review your Petition upon receipt by determining its completeness and timeliness of submittal. If the Petition is incomplete or further information is needed it may be returned to you. As a reminder, please provide a copy of your revaluation notice for record.
- A Petition number will be assigned to the Petition and all information related to that number will be logged into our database.
- The Petition and all supporting data will be forwarded to the County Assessor for their review and response.
- The Board of Equalization Clerk will begin scheduling Property Tax Petitions for hearing before the local Board of Equalization. Please note that cases will be scheduled in the order date in which they are filed.
- If your case is still pending a hearing at the time taxes are due (April 30th), you must still pay the taxes indicated by the Treasurer at that time. Once your hearing is held and a determination by the Board is made, if an adjustment to value has been determined, either a refund will be issued by the Treasurer or a credit may be applied to your second half taxes which are due October 31.
3. How can I appeal the assessed value of my property?
The only way to appeal the County Assessor’s office valuation of your property is by timely filing a complete appeal petition with the County Board of Equalization. There is no fee charged for filing an appeal. The appeal Petition form must be used. A letter or phone call is not acceptable as a substitute for the Petition form.
4. Who may file an appeal?
A property owner or “Taxpayer” may appeal. “Taxpayer” means the person or entity whose name and address appears on the assessment rolls, or their duly authorized agent. The appeal is filed with the Board of Equalization of the county in which the property is located.
5. Where can I get an appeal form?
The petition appeal form is available at the top of this page.
6. What is the deadline for filing?
July 1st of the assessment year or within 30 days of when the “Change of Value Notice (revaluation)” was mailed by the County Assessor, whichever date is later. If you mail your petition, it must be postmarked by midnight of the deadline. You may hand deliver the petition to the Board of Equalization (care of the Walla Walla County Commissioners’ office, 314 West Main, Walla Walla) and have it date stamped.
If you are appealing other County Assessor determinations, such as denial of an application for current use or the removal of classification from property by the assessor, you also have 30 days from the date of the mailing of notification.
7. Should I contact the County Assessor’s Office?
Yes. Contact the County Assessor to review your valuation any time you have a question regarding your property value. Property owners can often settle disagreements at this level without continuing the appeal process. However, you still need to preserve your appeal rights by timely filing your petition with the Board of Equalization
8. When do I receive a ‘Change of Value Notice’ or ‘Value Notice’?
The County Assessor will send you a notice when the assessed value of your property changes. The County Assessor is required to physically inspect and value real property at least every six years.Please note: Walla Walla County is on a “yearly revaluation cycle”. After determining the value, the assessor mails the taxpayer a “Change of Value Notice” or “Value Notice”. The notice will show the assessed value of land and improvements separately. The total assessed value should not exceed the market value of your property. The total assessed value is the only value you can appeal. The ‘allocation’ of value between land and improvements cannot be considered.
9. What if I did not get a “Change of Value Notice”?
If you did not receive a notice of change of value due to theoccurrence of ALL of the following, contact the Board of Equalization for possible waiver for good cause.:
- The taxpayer was absent from his or her home or from the address where the assessment notice or value change notice is normally received by the taxpayer. If the notice is normally mailed by the Assessor or a mortgage or other agent of the taxpayer, the taxpayer must show the mortgage or other agent was required, pursuant to written instructions from the taxpayer, to promptly transmit the notice and failed to do so; and
- The taxpayer was absent (as described above) for more than fifteen days prior to the filing deadline; and
- The filing deadline is after July 1 of the assessment year.
Also, keep in mind that the County Assessor is obligated to send the notice to the ‘owner’ whose name and address appears on the assessment rolls. Often, the ‘owner’ and ‘taxpayer’ can also be two different parties. It is therefore your responsibility to notify the County Assessor of any incorrect information or address changes. It is additionally your responsibility to request that the County Assessor or the mortgage or lending company send copies of the notices to you.
10. How does the County Assessor value my property?
State law requires the County Assessor to value all taxable property at 100 percent of its true and fair market value in money, according to the highest and best use of the property. Market value is the amount of money that a willing and unobligated buyer is willing to pay a willing and unobligated seller.
The County Assessor values real property using one or more acceptable appraisal methods: the market or sales comparison method, the cost approach, an income capitalization approach for income-producing property, or any combination of the three approaches.
11. What information must I provide for a completed petition (appeal)?
Your properly completed petition (appeal) must include specific reasons why you believe that the County Assessor’s valuation is not correct. The amount of tax, the assessed value of other properties, the percentage of assessment increase, personal hardship, and other matters unrelated to the market value cannot, by law, be considered by the Board.
Include the parcel number of the property you are appealing, the County Assessor’s determination of value, your estimate of value, and comparable sales or other supporting evidence that you wish to attach. Be sure to indicate if you intend to submit additional evidence prior to the hearing. You must provide additional information at least seven business days prior to the hearing.
Pursuant to WAC 458-14-056(5), a properly completed petition includes:
- Answers to all relevant questions.
- Sufficient information or statements to inform the Board of Equalization (Board) and the County Assessor of the reasons for the appeal. The amount of tax, the assessed value of other properties, the percentage of assessment increase, personal hardship, and other matters unrelated to the “market value” cannot, by law, be considered by the Board.
- All the documentary evidence which the taxpayer intends to present at the Board appeal hearing need not accompany the petition to be deemed complete if otherwise fully and properly completed to preserve taxpayer’s right of appeal.
- Be sure to indicate if you intend to submit additional evidence prior to the hearing. You must provide additional information at least seven business days prior to the scheduled hearing.
12. Am I encouraged to exchange valuation information and supporting evidence at a reasonable time prior to hearing?
Yes. This allows parties to possibly resolve their dispute at this level so that a hearing before the Board of Equalization would not be necessary.
13. How is the dispute resolution processed?
By either of two ways:
- Stipulation of Value or
Forms are normally processed through the County Assessor requiring appropriate signatures and forwarded to the Board of Equalization for proper finalization and closure.
14. When will I have a hearing?
If resolution between you and the County Assessor does not occur, the Clerk of the Board of Equalization will notify you of the location, date, and time that your hearing is scheduled. State law currently requires that notification be made 15 business days prior to the scheduled hearing.
15. What can I expect at the hearing?
You and the County Assessor will each have the opportunity to give oral testimony in support of your opinions of value and written evidence before our independent Board of Equalization.
Keep in mind that the County Assessor is, by law, presumed to be correct. The burden of proof is on you to show that the assessed value is not correct by presenting clear, cogent and convincing evidence to support your estimate of market value.
16. How soon will I receive a decision from the board?
You will usually receive a written decision from the Board of Equalization within two weeks of the hearing.
17. What if I am not satisfied with the Board of Equalization’s decision?
You may appeal the County Board’s decision to the State Board of Tax Appeals. Your appeal must be filed with the State Board of Tax Appeals within 30 calendar days of the mailing of the County Board’s decision. Forms are available upon request through the County Board of Equalization. You may also pay your taxes under protest and petition the Supreme Court for a refund by filing a lawsuit under chapter 84.68 RCW.
18. If I do not file my appeal timely can the Board be reconvened to consider my petition?
There are only limited reasons for the Board to reconvene to consider assessments when an appeal was not filed by the deadline. One reason is if a new purchaser bought a property after July 1st and before December 31 of the assessment year and the sale price was less than 90 percent of the assessed value. Another would be if the taxing official has been fraudulent in performing their duties.
19. Should I wait until after my hearing to pay my property taxes?
Pay your property taxes when due. After your hearing and the decision by the Board of Equalization , the County Treasurer will notify you of any adjustment to your taxes.
20. Where can I find additional information?
Additional information may be found in the state property tax statute (Chapters 84.08 and 84.48 of the Revised Code of Washington) and in the Department of Revenue’s administrative rules (Chapter 458-14 of the Washington Administration Code).
To assist you, the following publications are available from your country Assessor’s Office and Department of Revenue:
- A Homeowner’s Guide to Property Taxes
- Facts on Washington’s Tax Structure: Property Tax
- Facts on Personal Property Tax
- Property Tax Exemptions for Nonprofit Organizations
- Tax Relief for Senior Citizens and Disabled Person
21. What if I have questions?
If you have questions regarding your assessment, and/or property, please contact the County County Assessor at 509-524-2560. If you wish to file a Petition and/or need assistance in completing the Petition, please contact your local Board of Equalization at 509-524-2506.