Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) from the Marion County, Iowa Assessor.

  Marion County, Iowa - Assessor FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions from the Assessor's Office.

I signed up for Homestead and/or Military credit last year. Why isnít it on my taxes? Do I need to sign again?

It will depend on when you signed the application. Applications must be signed on or before July 1st of the assessment year that you are first claiming the credit. If it is signed after July 1st, the credit is applied to the next assessment year.

Please remember that property taxes due are 18 months behind the current assessment year. Example, the current property taxes payable in September 2013 and March 2014 are calculated on the 2012 assessment year and values. If you signed up after July 1, 2012, but on or before July 1, 2013, your credit will be applied to the 2013 assessments on which the taxes will be calculated for the September 2014 and March 2015 payments. If you signed up after July 1, 2013, your credit will be applied to the 2014 assessments, which will be used to for the September 2015 and March 2016 property taxes.

Homestead and military credits were at one time applied for every year. In the mid 1980ís, this was changed to a one-time sign up. However, you do still have to sign up if you move to another house, even if it is next door or across the street.

Doesn't the Assessor raise my value according to the amount of taxes needed?

No, the Assessor raises or lowers the values of property according to the market value of real estate or in the case of agricultural land, according to productivity and CSR.

Assessments are set January 1st of each year, while the tax levies (tax rates) on these assessments are not set until July of the following year. (Example, the assessment notices from April 2013 were for the January 1, 2013 assessment. Tax levies for these values will be set in June of 2014 based on what the different taxing authorities budget in March and April 2014 for the next fiscal year of July 2014 - June 2015.)

The taxing authorities you pay property taxes to are listed at the bottom of your tax statement each year, along with their budget information and a breakdown of how much you are paying to each taxing body.

I disagree with my value. What can I do?

I would first recommend either looking at your property information on our Marion County Assessor website ( ), or contacting our office, to see if we have everything listed correctly for your property. We will gladly provide a printout on your dwelling and/or buildings and explain how your value was determined. The Marion County Assessor's Beacon website is also a good place to find out how other comparable properties have sold.

If you still disagree with your value, there is an "Informal Agreement" period between April 2nd and April 25th. This process would involve a field appraiser coming out to look at your property to see if the value could possibly be adjusted so a formal protest with the Board of Review could be avoided. If an agreed upon value is reached, the Informal Agreement is signed by the aggrieved taxpayer and the value is changed for the current assessment year. This is merely an option; you may choose to go directly to the Board of Review with a timely filed, formal protest.

If no agreement can be made, or if you choose not to go this route, you may file a petition with the Marion County Board of Review. Petitions are available in the Assessor's Office or online at the county's web site or the Iowa Department of Revenue's web site. Petitions must be filed within the timeframe provided by the Code of Iowa. This is currently April 2nd to April 30th of any given year. The petitions are filed in the Assessor's Office.

The Board of Review will meet during the month of May.  You may decide to have an oral hearing before the Board, or only decide to file your petition and submit any information you think is relevant to your petition.  The Board will notify you by mail of their decision.

If you disagree with their decision, you may appeal within 20 days of the Board's adjournment, or May 31st, whichever is later.  This date is usually May 31st.  You may appeal to either the Property Assessment Appeal Board, or to Marion County District Court.

I paid xxxxx dollars for my house.  Why isn't it assessed for that?

With the exception of agricultural land, real estate is assessed at current market value.  The current market value for assessments are established every odd numbered year and based on actual sales from the previous year.  The Assessor's Office looks at all arms-length sales in the County, in a particular town, and of a certain building style to determine assessment for a number of properties at once.

An individual property may sell higher or lower than the assessed value for a number of reasons.  There may have been a change in the property since our office last inspected the property.  The change could have been something that would raise or lower the value.

These changes could include such things as a new garage or addition, a deck, new siding or windows, a garage or deck removed, or the overall condition of the dwelling has depreciated beyond what it would normally.  Sometimes, one may be willing to pay more for a specific feature in a particular property, or the seller may be willing to sell it for less to reduce their worries and maintenance costs.  There are also characteristics of a property which may affect the market value, but are not assessed, such as landscaping or personal property included in the sale.

The assessed value of my house should be less than what I would sell it for?

Assessed values are to be at 100% fair market value.  Your assessment should be near what you could expect to sell it for in the current market.  As stated above, there could be a number of factors that would affect your sale price compared to your assessed value.

Why did my assessed value change from my odd numbered year assessment notice (2007) to what is listed on the website for 2007 valuation, or on my tax receipt payable for September 2008 and March 2009?

This was due to an Equalization order from the Iowa Department of Revenue (IDOR).  The order was for a 6% increase to all residential property, including dwellings on agricultural property.  This means that the Assessor's valuation in April of 2007 was 6% too low, according to the IDOR analysis.  There is a possibility of equalization orders every odd numbered year.

Odd numbered years are reassessment years, and possibly state equalization years, as established by the Code of Iowa.  This means that the Assessor's office reviews all sales of property and compares the sale price with the assessed value at the time of the sale.  This sales analysis is done at the start of the year.  Notices of the new assessment are mailed to property owners by April 15th.

The Board of Review considers filed petitions during the month of May.  After the Board of Review is finished, the Assessor then compiles, and submits to the Iowa Department of Revenue, an abstract of assessment and reconciliation report.  This abstract report shows the valuation for the County by classification and location.  The reconciliation report shows the reason for overall changes in valuation from the previous year.  These include revaluation, new construction, building removal, change in classification, or annexation.

After receiving the valuation abstract and reconciliation report, the Department of Revenue performs their own sales analysis, determines the valuation for the year by adjusting the previous year's valuation report, and then compares their results to the current year's valuation report received from the County.  If the total value for each class is within +/- 5%, no equalization orders would be determined to be needed.  If the percentage difference is over or under 5% for a particular class of property, even if it's 5.1%, the Department of Revenue would issue an equalization order of 5%, or more, to the County for that class of property.

What are the Elderly and Disabled Tax Credit? How do I apply?

This tax credit is an additional Homestead Credit. Eligibility requirements include: must be 65 or older, or totally disabled, and meet the household income requirements. You should contact the County Treasurer to find out the income requirements as they change each year.

Applications and more information are available in the County Treasurerís Office. Applications must be filed by June 1st with the County Treasurerís Office. This credit application must be filed every year.

What is Rent Reimbursement?

This is similar to the Elderly and Disabled Credit, except this is for people who rent their home. Eligibility requirements are the same: must be 65 or older, or totally disabled, and meet the current household income requirements.

To access the current Rent Reimbursement instructions and requirements, blank reimbursement forms, and reimbursement forms that can be filled out online, please click on the following link that takes you to the Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance Property Tax Forms page.

Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance - Rent Reimbursement

These applications are also available in the County Assessorís Office after January 15th of a given year. The application must then be sent to the Iowa Department of Revenue by June 1st by the claimant. This must be applied for every year.

I own and farm 500 acres. Isnít there something I need to sign up for now?

You are probably thinking of the Family Farm Tax Credit. This was required to be signed up every year by October 15th until 2001. If you signed up in 2001 or after, you do not have to sign again. However, if you have acquired more agricultural land after you last signed up, you will need to sign an application for the newly acquired land. Applications can be filed anytime. However, those filed after November 1st will be applied to the next year.

I signed up for Forest Reserve. Do I have to sign up every year?

No, this is a one-time sign up and need not be applied for again. The property will be checked periodically to verify that it continues to meet the program requirements and continues to qualify.

What is Forest Reserve exemption?

The forest reserve exemption was enacted by the legislature to promote the need to keep timber areas in the state. To be eligible, the property must be at least 2 acres and contain at least 200 growing trees per acre. If any buildings are within the area claimed for exemption, one acre for the building site will remain taxable.

Livestock is not allowed on the property. This includes cattle, horses, mules, sheep, goats, or hogs. The property would not qualify, or would cease to receive the benefit of the exemption. It may also be subject to a recapture tax.

There can be no economic gain on the property claimed for exemption other than raising trees. Up to one fifth of the trees may be removed as long as the total trees per acre does not go below the required 200, or enough trees are re-planted to stay above this. The receipt of compensation from the federal government is not acceptable economic gain for forest reserve exempted property. The property would not be eligible or would cease to receive the exemption if other economic gain is being received. It may also be subject to recapture tax.

If a property ceases to be eligible, it shall be assessed for taxation and subject to the recapture tax. The property shall be subject to taxation for the current year. In addition, the property is subject to taxation for each of the five preceding calendar years for which it was exempted. However, if the same person, or their direct descendents or antecedents, have owned the property exempted for at least 10 years, it shall not be subject to recapture tax.

A problem might occur when a property is for sale that has some forest reserve exempted ground, which would cause the buyer to pay the recapture tax. If the buyer is unaware that some of the ground is in exemption, they might decide to clear the trees. If they do, the exemption would cease and they would be responsible for the recapture tax. Our office suggests, if the buyer is unsure if they want to keep the forest reserve exemption or not aware of the exemption, that the seller sign a statement requesting that the exemption be removed. The new owner can sign a new application if they wish it to remain in the forest reserve exemption.

My house is in the country and I have 7 acres. Why arenít I classed as agricultural?

Iowa legislators have enacted statutes that determine how a property is classed and assessed. Current statutes state that a property is to be classed according to its current and primary use. A propertyís location or zoning does not determine classification for assessment. Agricultural real estate includes woodland, wasteland, and pastureland, but only if held in conjunction with other agricultural real estate.

A house on x number of acres with the primary use of the property is to live there, will be classed as residential. This would include properties with an out building, which might have a horse or two, or a couple of cows, or mow a couple acres to sell hay bales. These uses would be incidental to the primary use of the property as a residence. Agricultural classification of small parcels is appropriate when they are the site of an intensive livestock use which demonstrates intended agricultural profit. Agricultural classification is also appropriate when they are adjacent to and operated as part of a larger farming operation.

This would differ from a house on 40 acres with 30 acres of cropland and 200 hogs. Even though the house is their primary residence, the primary use of the overall property is agricultural.

My building that I use as a repair shop is in a residential area and zoned as residential. Why is it classed as commercial?

A building being used as a business will be classed as commercial, even though it may be in a residential area or zoned residential. Again, it depends on the primary use of the property.

If a property has a building being used as a repair shop business, and there isnít a house, this will be classed as commercial. However, if they discontinue the business and use the property for personal storage or use, then it could be re-classed as residential.

A house would be classed as commercial if used primarily for business purposes, or has 3 or more apartments. However, if someone is using a room or two in the house for a business, i.e. beauty shop, insurance office, etc., and lives the rest of the house, this would be classed as residential.

The only time location and zoning may help determine classification is when there is a vacant lot, which isnít owned by an adjoining or adjacent building owner.

I served in the military. Am I eligible for the Military Service Property Tax Exemption?

There have been a number of changes by the Legislature in recent years that have expanded the eligibility for the Military Exemption on property taxes. Individuals that may not have been eligible in the past may qualify now. Click here for additional detail information.


Sunset over Red Rock Area in Marion County, Iowa

Tulips in Marion County, Iowa

Marion County Courthouse in Knoxville, Iowa

Visit our county and city parks