Real property tax assessments; appeals. (HB1588)

Introduced By

Del. Sal Iaquinto (R-Virginia Beach)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Real property tax assessments; appeals.  Transfers the burden of proof from the taxpayer to the assessor when a taxpayer appeals the assessment of real property to a board of equalization, and transfers it from the taxpayer to the locality when such appeal is to a circuit court. The bill also extends statewide provisions regarding boards of equalization currently applicable only to the City of Virginia Beach. The bill is applicable to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2011. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/06/2011Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/12/11 11100116D
01/06/2011Referred to Committee on Finance
01/14/2011Impact statement from TAX (HB1588)
01/17/2011Assigned Finance sub: #2
01/21/2011Impact statement from DHCD (HB1588)
01/26/2011Subcommittee recommends no action
01/31/2011Subcommittee recommends reporting with amendment(s) (8-Y 0-N)
02/02/2011Reported from Finance with substitute (21-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/02/2011Committee substitute printed 11105044D-H1
02/04/2011Read first time
02/07/2011Read second time
02/07/2011Committee substitute agreed to 11105044D-H1
02/07/2011Engrossed by House - committee substitute HB1588H1
02/08/2011Read third time and passed House BLOCK VOTE (99-Y 0-N)
02/08/2011VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (99-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/09/2011Impact statement from TAX (HB1588H1)
02/09/2011Constitutional reading dispensed
02/09/2011Referred to Committee on Finance
02/16/2011Reported from Finance (12-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/17/2011Constitutional reading dispensed (38-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/18/2011Read third time
02/18/2011Passed Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/25/2011Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB1588ER)
02/25/2011Impact statement from TAX (HB1588ER)
02/25/2011Signed by Speaker
02/25/2011Signed by President
03/18/2011G Approved by Governor-Chapter 232 (effective 1/1/12)
03/18/2011G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0232)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 1 clip in all, totaling 1 minute.


Waldo Jaquith writes:

I don't understand—why wouldn't everybody appeal their assessments under this sort of arrangement? Since it's the taxpayer who is claiming that the assessment is wrong, isn't only logical that the burden of proof be on them to demonstrate that it's wrong? After all, if they can't prove that it's wrong, aren't they really wasting everybody's time (and the public's money)?

Sal Iaquinto writes:


The current law requires the assessor to keep a record on file on how he/she came up with the assessment. Under my bill, the burden shifts to the assessor to prove how he came up with the assessment before the taxpayer has to prove why it is wrong. The taxpayer STILL has to prove that the assessment is wrong. I think it is the governments burden to prove how they came up with the assessment first. How hard can it be since the government is REQUIRED by law to keep a record on how they came up with the assessment?

By the way, this process isn't easy or fun regardless of who has the initial burden of proof. It still costs the taxpayer a great deal of time and money to appeal the assessment.

Current law uses an evidentiary procedure, by requiring the taxpayer to prove their case with substantial evidence, in a process that doesn't use or adhere to the rules of evidence. This level of scrutiny is completely overly burdensome and misplaced.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Thank you for that helpful explanation, Del. Iaquinto!

Jim Duncan writes:

Del. Iaquinto -

Thank you for taking the time to explain the rationale behind this bill; that should be a requirement for every bill. :)

Sal Iaquinto writes:


Thanks for your comment.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Jim, putting on my "guy who runs Richmond Sunlight hat" for a moment here (I need a special icon or something to indicate when I'm doing that, I think), that's a feature that I've wanted to add for years—it'd be easy to do—but I don't think I could get many legislators to participate. It would be really great, I think, if legislators (or, realistically, legislative aides) could provide just a few words explaining the purpose of each bill, because so often (as in this case) it's just not clear to average citizens or, indeed, engaged citizens.

Sal Iaquinto writes:

Just for the record, this is actually Sal, not my legislative aide.

Bearing Drift, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

Bearing Drift supports this bill that places the burden of proof for contested real estate assessments with those increasing the assessment - the local government - as opposed to with the homeowner.

Isaac Adams writes:

Thank you for providing the added information on this bill, Delegate. It makes it easier for others to evaluate the merits of a bill. Thank you.

Whit writes:

Having done some work in this field, (Formerly employed @ Blue Ridge Mass Appraisal) I can not support or ask my legislators to support this bill. The VAST majority of appeals are frivolous. Its an understandably emotional time and folks will flock to the hearings with no more of a case then "my assessment is too high". It was a pleasure to see citizens come in with a founded appeal ( a new appraisal or sale in the area, an issue with a property not previously known to the field assessor proved with pictures, engineering reports) and to adjust that properties assessment accordingly.

The appeals exist for a reason- to allow the citizen to make his case. The assessor has already made his case to his board (made up of citizens). To allow this provision would overburden the appeals process with frivolous appeals and/or add costs(I estimate 1.5 to 2 times the current costs), as Waldo hinted at. Essentially an unfunded mandate for localities. It would burden what is in my estimation an already outdated method of assessing real estate and make it worse.

Cary Nunnally writes:

Thank you for this important bill, Del I. I hope it establishes a precedent and spreads quickly to the other localities.

What some folks may not realize is that the total real estate value affects the bond rating of the locality. When I see my city overvaluing properties, I see them maintaining a bond rating in order to be able to borrow more money. A city that is a billion dollars in debt does not need to borrow more.

As for "silly" appeals, our city assessors simply raise the assessment on folks who appeal but don't know enough about the process, with the intended result of those folks telling their friends not to appeal because their assessment will only go up. No one without some political clout or legal know-how can get past the board of equalization, but there are a handful of folks who automatically get a reduction in assessment just by calling.

Stew Fleming writes:

I very much support your efforts to put the burden back where it has always belonged, on the assessor.

According to info from the BoE manual published by the Dept. of Tax code 58.1-3379 says;
In order to receive relief, the taxpayer must produce substantial evidence that the valuation determined by the assessor is erroneous and was not arrived at in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practice.(Under Virginia law, substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla.) It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
Mistakes of fact, including computation, that affect the assessment shall be deemed not to be in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practice.

The real problem with the property tax appeals process is that the assessor is NEVER required to PROVE ANYTHING to any taxpayer or any STATE OFFICIAL.

Here in Newport News, the BoE refused to revise downward the value of one house that the owner had just purchased for $260,000. That owner submitted an appraisal and the recorded value of his property as proof of that value. Instead, the BoE accepted the assessor's value, derived using 2 year old comparables, of $384,600. Which of those two values more accurately represents the ACTUAL VALUE of thst house?

I rest my case.