I’m the Property Manager of an apartment-What should I know about testifiying at a Property Tax Appeal Trial?

One of the ways the high-end management firms support their multifamily clients is to appeal property taxes.  At trial, Prime PTN will supply expert witnesses to make the actual case.  Magistrate Tax court and Regular Tax Court rules of evidence require a representative from the management company to verify that rent-roll and other documents were produced by the management company.  In doing so you are a “witness of fact”.  You may be asked very general information about the property and neighborhood.  Most of this is basic property information you learned during your first couple of weeks on site as a trainee.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about testifying as a property manager at a property tax trial:

When do I testify?  The documents you enter into evidence will start the trial.  You are typically the first witness.

What documents will I be asked about?  You will be asked by P-PTN if the documents entered into evidence are produced by your firm.  They may include Rent Rolls, property financials, etc.  They are the documents supplied by your company to us.

Will I be sworn in and asked questions?  Yes.  You will be asked to raise your right arm and be sworn in.  P-PTN will ask you to confirm that the documents are from your firm, which they will be.  We’ll ask very basic questions about the property, condition, etc.  The County will then be given a opportunity to question you.  The scope of questions they are permitted to ask is narrow.

Will there be “gotcha” questions?  Absolutely not.  Typically the most difficult questions are along the lines of: “How many 3-bedroom apartments are there in the subject complex?” or: “Is there a grocery store within walking distance?”

What if I don’t know the answer to a question?  The most important thing to do while testifying is to tell the truth.  If the truth is that you don’t know the answer…or don’t understand the question, say so.

Will I have to sign in?  No.  Rarely you will be asked to show identification and go through a screening similar to the airport.  Do not bring a weapon.

Will there be lots of people in the courtroom?  No.  These trials are open to the public but in practice there are more people at a large dinner table than in the courtroom.

Can I stay after I testify?  Yes. In most cases you will be done by 9:30 am.  P-PTN welcomes you to stay…but the decision to observe all or part of the further proceedings should be based on your supervisor’s permission and the needs of your property.

What do I wear?  Business dress is appropriate.

I’m still nervous!  Don’t be.   Before the trial we will review with you the documents that we will be submitting, discuss the process in greater detail, give you detailed information on time, address, etc.

ps: Don’t forget to add:  ” Testified on behalf of my property at a trial” to your resume.

Good luck!


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FAQ 3: More Frequently Asked Questions About Oregon Property Tax Appeals

Oregon’s Property Tax Appeal Campaign will kick off in earnest soon.  Prime PTN will be demystify the property tax appeal process by listing the most frequently asked questions and their answers.  Call us directly with questions at: info@primeptn.com

Here our some previous informational posts: FAQ 1, FAQ 2

1. How large are refunds?

Good Question! During our careers our team members have worked on successful appeals that resulted in cash refunds/savings to the taxpayer ranging from under $1,000 to much, more than $1,000,000. Not all cases result in a refund.

2. What about personal property taxes? Do you appeal those too?

YES.  We pursue personal property tax appeals with the same vigor we use on real property tax appeals.  We recently had a victory on a personal property appeal where we lowered the taxable basis of some personal assets by over $1.6 Million.

3. What are your qualifications?

Since we have two types of skillsets in house, let’s answer that question twice:

LEGAL:  Our lead negotiator, Scott Phinney was an attorney and Chief Hearings Officer for the State of Oregon when the voters passed Measure 5.  He was one of a handfull of experts tasked with creating a new appeal system for Oregon.  Know the law? He helped write it.  He has used the last 20 years to expand his sphere of excellence to include Washington and California appeals in addition to Oregon.

VALUATION: Our lead valuator (Rick Bean) writes a real estate investment blog based on his experience in researching diverse real estate markets in multiple states. He has worked on acquisitions and dispositions for a REIT on multiple sub categotries of real estate ranging from $100,000 to $106,000,000.

4. Do you handle Oregon property tax appeal cases for every County?

YES.  We work appeals for all of Oregon…and we also prosecute appeals for Washington and California.

5. What if I have a portfolio with commercial properties in many states?
That’s not a problem for us.  We actively pursue personal and real property tax appeals in Oregon, Washington and California.  We also have relationships with other successful firms throughout the nation. We coordinate appeals and provide a single source solution.  We have multiple clients that have 50 or more commercial properties.

6. Does it really make a difference to use a local property tax appeal solution?

YES.  Your interests are best served by having a property tax reduction advocate that has relationships with the county apprasers and an understanding how each county operates differently.  You don’t want a vendor that shies away from Santa Barbara, CA appeals because he thinks their filing fee is $1,000.  It is…but only for assets larger than $30,000,000.  For most appeals their fee is an affordable $65.  Local knowledge let’s us know which 9 California counties close their appeals 45 days before the rest of the state.

Washington State’s filing deadline is June 30th…but if you read the fine print it’s actually the later of that date or 30 or 60 days after the mailing date of valuation change notices. Local knowledge allows us to know that in Washington, King and Clark counties usually mail their statements as late as the end of September and that they are “60 day” counties…meaning that some appeals may be valid if filed as late as November 22nd.

Local knowedge of the laws and appeal procedures is more important in Oregon than any other state in the union.  Understanding compression refunds and trigger points is vital to receiving the optimum refund.  It’s complex, which is why so few national property tax appeal firms have a presence in Oregon.  They are more attracted to lower hanging fruit elsewhere.


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Demystifying Oregon Property Tax Appeal Basics: FAQ 2

Over the next few weeks Oregon’s Property Tax Appeal Campaign will kick off in earnest.  This is the second in Prime Property Tax Negotiation’s series of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.  We’ll have several installments, but if you have a question don’t wait…feel free to contact us directly at: william@primeptn.com.  Also check out our first list: FAQ 1

1. What is the Oregon Property Tax appeal deadline?

10PM on 01/03/12 is the deadline this year.  Best practice is to have your property tax appeal advocate selected, be signed up and have your tax statement forwarded to them by 12/15/11.

2. Do I have to have someone do this for me?

NO. For single family residences some have the moxie, market trend awareness and tenacity required to prevail.  Most do not, in my opinion.  In the case of commercial and industrial assets even (most) CPAs, attorney’s and appraisers lack the full range of skillsets and knowledge base required to win in Oregon.  Oregon is widely held to be the most difficult state to win property tax appeals in. (That’s why there are so few national companies with a presence in our state.)

3. I’d like a brief overview of the process
SURE! There are three levels of value appeals in Oregon:

A. BOPTA.  (Board of Property Tax Appeals) After we’ve filed your initial appeal we will research your property and others like it that have been sold, for sale, and for lease.  We will look at several valuation approaches including capitalization of revenue.  We will testify on your behalf at BOPTA in the county where the property is located.  The BOPTA panelists are independent  from the county.  The calibre varies widely from exceptionally dedicated and knowledgeable to those for whom that would not be applicable.

B. Magistrate Tax Court.  If we appeal to the second level we will do additional research and testify on your behalf and testify at Magistrate Tax Court in Salem, OR.  We will supply expert witnesses and cross-examine the county staff.  A robed judge will render a verdict.

C. Regular Tax Court.  Still not satisfied? We can re-appeal to Regular Tax Court. This is the highest level for appeals based on the value evidence. Like Magistrate Tax Court this is held in Salem and a highly professional robed judge will preside. Note: There is also the Oregon State Supreme Court…but that is for contesting the interpretation of the law, rules of evidence, etc.


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FAQs- Frequently asked Questions about Oregon Property Tax Appeals

Over the next few weeks Oregon’s Property Tax Appeal Campaign will kick off in earnest.  Prime PTN hopes to demystify the property tax appeal process by listing the most frequently asked questions and their answers.  We’ll have several installments.  We take a client centric approach…feel free to contact us directly with questions at: info@primeptn.com.

Questions and Answers

1. Is it really possible to get a property tax refund in Oregon?

YES! This is perhaps the most pervasive myth that Prime PTN hears nearly everyday. We’ve had many successes for the most recent appeal season…and past seasons as well. Refunds have ranged from thousands to tens of thousand of dollars.

2. Does it cost a lot of money upfront?

NO. We evaluate your case for free. Professional fees are on a contingency basis only…If we don’t win we don’t get paid.  We do ask clients to pay filing fees, but relative to the potential tax savings they’re comparatively small.

3. Do I always have to get and pay for an appraisal to win?

NO. To be successful at property tax appeals requires valuation skill and exceptional legal acumen. Most firms have one or the other.  We pride ourselves on having both.  Most of the cases we have won have been without appraisals.  If they are available we would want to have them.  If they’re not…then we would rather work a bit harder and give our clients a higher return.  We would tell you if an appraisal was required and get your approval before spending money.

4. The County Appraiser told me in order to get a property tax refund, I had to prove that the Market Value was lower than the Appraised Value. True?

NO. Compression refunds often start well above the Assessed Value. Prime PTN has a proprietary program that calculates where refunds start and how much might be possible. This is only an estimate…the actual refund (if any) will be determined by the court’s judgement based on the evidence both sides offer and applicable statutes and case law.


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Thank you: Demystifying Personal Property Tax Appeals

Thanks for the Great Question!

Prime PTN sends a thank you to Thomas D. of San Francisco, CA for a great question!  Thomas e-mailed me saying that our website shows us to be experts in property tax appeals…but can we assist with personal property assessment appeals as well?
The answer is:  Yes…we seek engagements of this type and we’ll have to make it clearer on our site that personal property appeals represent a key component of our overall service offerings.     We pursue Oregon personal property tax appeals as well as Washington and California personal property tax appeals.  As always, for multi-state portfolio owners we prosecute appeals directly in Oregon, California, and Washington, and coordinate additional state appeals.  We offer a seamless single source  solution to regional or national asset appeals.
By the way, Thomas…banks do not consistently manage their property tax liabilities well.  There may be some lower hanging fruit in both the REO area and personal property categories.
If your firm would like additional information on managing their personal and real property tax liabilities please:
  • Call us at 503-551-0888
  • Write us at P.O. Box 1428, Tualatin, OR 97062
  • E-mail us at: william@primeptn.com
  • Fill out the “Contact Us” information tab on the navigation bar at the top of each page
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Washington’s Real Property Tax Deadline

The state of Washington’s property tax appeal deadline is June 30th, or 60 days after the mailing date of the value notices.  This means that almost a month after the official deadline that many (most) Washington residents can still file valid appeals.  Each county does it a little differently.  Most of our clients tell us that King and Clark County haven’t sent out notices yet.  Remember: The appeal deadline clock starts ticking the day they are sent, not the day they arrive.

Get ahead of the game. You can contact Prime Property Tax Negotiation to file your appeal even before your receive your statement.  Contact us today  at 503.577.1034, or info@primeptn.com.

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