Understanding property taxes

By Josh Gibson,

Jackson County Assessor

Property Taxes!!! Booooooo……

This is my first article that I have written for a newspaper and first off, I want to thank the Upper Rogue Independent for this opportunity. This is the first of monthly submissions where I will try my best to breakdown the convoluted laws, statutes, rules and programs of how our property taxes are governed.

Let’s start at the beginning, the Oregon property tax revolution.

In 1991, property values were rising, new taxing rates were being created resulting in skyrocketing property taxes. In response, the statewide Measure 5 was voted in. This measure sets the cap on how much a property can pay to schools and government. Schools are capped at $5 per $1,000 of your propertie’s market value and the government’s cap is set at $10. The dollar amount per $1,000 of value was based on the estimate of what your property could sell for on January 1st of any given year. This is referred to in the property tax law as your Real Market Value or RMV.

Although Measure 5 set a cap on what certain entities could receive. Taxes were still based on RMV and at the time of the early 90’s, property values were still increasing at unpredictable levels. Stability and predictability in property taxes were demanded.

In 1997, voters approved Measure 50. A property would retain its RMV but a secondary value was created called Maximum Assessed Value (MAV). This value was established by taking the 1995 RMV minus 10%. MAV is the ceiling value on which your properties taxes are based.

This is an example of how MAV was created:

1997 RMV = $100,000

1995 RMV = $90,000 – 10% = $81,000

1997 MAV = $81,000

This shows that although a property in 1997 could sell for $100,000, the taxes were based on $81,000. After MAV is established, that value grows by 3% a year regardless of whether the real estate market is robust as was the case from 2002 to 2007 or since which has fallen flat on its face.

So how does someone get their taxes lowered?

Your taxes are based on either the lower of your RMV or MAV. Until RMV falls below MAV, a property can decline in value but still have taxes increase. Even after 5 years of historical declines in property values, 61% of residential properties in Jackson County still have not seen a reduction in taxes.


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