Counties in Nebraska, including Lancaster County, provide taxpayers with a way to protest assessed property valuations if the property owner feels the property has been overvalued. Property valuations are based upon multiple factors and the overvaluing of a property will lead to higher property taxes.
Property valuation protests are overseen by the Lancaster County Board of Equalization, which uses a system of referee hearings to help determine if the property has been overvalued. If you have a property that you believe is overvalued, below are the steps that can be taken to file a protest.
Begin by filing a protest between June 1st and June 30th. All protests MUST be postmarked by June 30th; any protests sent after that date will be returned to the property owner. Beginning on June 1st, the form for protesting can be found at www.lancaster.ne.gov, under the keyword “protest.” Once completed, the form can be submitted electronically, mailed, faxed, or hand-delivered to the Lancaster County Clerk’s Office, located in Room 108 of the County-City Building at 555 S. 10th Street, Lincoln.
After properly submitting a protest, the Clerk’s office will schedule a hearing for you to talk one-on-one with a referee, an independent and experienced real estate appraiser licensed in Nebraska. To support your protest, the county recommends the preparation of some or all of the following documentation:
- Recent appraisal (within past 12 months) from a licensed real estate appraiser.
- Recent sales or purchase agreements.
- Data regarding recent property sales in the area.
- Recent construction or repair costs/activities that would affect the value.
- Description/photographs of the physical characteristics of the building/property.
- Rent and operating income and expense data, as well as vacancy information (for commercial and investment property).
- Data showing different land uses and soil types (for farmland valuations).
- Discounted cash flow information (for development land valuations).
In the hearing, property owners or their representatives will be able to present their case that the property values should be changed from the current assessed value. You will have a limited amount of time to present your case: eight minutes for residential property, 10 minutes for small apartment dwellings, and 15 minutes for agriculture properties.
Following the hearing, the referee will notify the property owner in writing of their recommended value. This report will then be presented to the Board of Equalization, who has the final authority to approve or deny the valuation adjustment on or before August 10th. The property owner will then receive written notice of the final value for the current year.
If, after going through the protest process, the county does not change the assessed value, or you still feel that the property is overvalued, you are able to file an appeal with the State Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC). This process should begin as soon as you receive the final valuation letter from the county, and a $25 fee to file a TERC appeal does apply. To contact TERC, you can either visit www.terc.ne.gov or call (402) 471-2842.
Questions you might have for Lancaster County regarding property valuations or the protest process can be addressed through the Lancaster County Clerk, Dan Nolte. The phone number for the Clerk’s office is (402) 441-8724. The email address for questions and comments regarding the protest process is firstname.lastname@example.org.
HBE Becker Meyer Love LLP is available to assist you with the details of protesting your property tax valuation. Should you have any questions, please contact our office at (402) 423-4343.