Assessor Creates $2.4M in New Tax Value
August 10, 2020 by
Assessors’ offices exist to provide fair and equitable property valuations for a jurisdiction. These valuations power the property taxes that fund the core services of government including public safety, infrastructure, education, and more.
The foundation of an equitable valuation process is the assessor’s ability to create consistency around how each property is treated. The accuracy of data used for the assessments is also critical. Such consistency and accuracy come largely from efficient business processes and comprehensive reviews.
In Coconino County, Arizona, Program Manager Jeremy Pittman identified the need to improve the review process for business personal property valuations. “In Arizona, business personal property is self-reported, meaning the data we have on business personal property is provided by the taxpayer,” Pittman explained. “We believed that there may be inconsistencies from this type of reporting due to the complexity of the law and a lack of knowledge of what is taxable and how the taxpayer should report taxable items.”
New Audit and Outreach Program
To gain more accurate data on business personal property and to educate the county’s business community, Pittman and team initiated a new county-wide audit and outreach program. Implementing the program using the county’s existing assessment software ensured the accuracy of the data used because of its central location. It also created a single point of reference for audit data.
Tracking each audit step through the software provided an efficient and user-friendly way to retain audit progress and information. As appraisers used the step-by-step workflow, management staff could review and track the progress of each individual audit.
When account changes were discovered during the audit process, appraisers uploaded new data directly into the system using the existing personal property input tool, eliminating manual entry. This ease of uploading allowed the office not only to conduct audits for the current tax year, but also for the previous three years as well.
Automated reports that showed the differences in values pre- and post-audit or itemized inventory of each account showed the outcome of the audits and provided tools for quality assurance. “The implementation of this project allows us to pursue our goal of valuing all property in our county fairly and equitably by providing accurate data for appraisal,” said Pittman. Simply put, the process provides for a fair and equitable distribution of taxes.
What’s more, implementing the audit program within the county’s existing system streamlined the entire process, facilitating completion of more audits in a shorter amount of time and with fewer personnel. The audit program and newly-streamlined processes provided an increase of $2.24 million in new tax value for the county – a number that will only grow as audits continue.
Coconino County has been generous with its lessons learned, sharing its process and insight with other Tyler Technologies users in Arizona. “Other counties can use the workflow we created, or edit it to fit other office needs,” said Pittman. “The reports we created can be shared directly into the other users’ systems to save them time in building them.”
In addition, the methodology and system functionality can be used to streamline work for other areas outside of the audit program.