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Protest land valuation change?

I know that property taxes have been discussed at length below in another context. But I wonder if anyone has ever filed a protest on a valuation change.

I just received notice that for our little farm in Nebraska, the irrigated ground was given a 25% increase, a dryland quarter, mostly in CRP and pasture, a 37% hike. Statewide, land prices declined 3% over the last year.

Are these kinds of increases typical this year, I wonder? Should a guy make some attempt at a protest? Is it worth the effort? Thanks for any thoughts. -- John
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3 Replies
Veteran Contributor

Re: Protest land valuation change?

I'm also a Nebraskan so understand the system.  


Do your homework to look at recent sales and also see if your valuation is out of line with others in the area.

Look for any incorrect info regarding your property that might have incorrectly inflated it's value.

Typically the taxes lag behind as the values go up and then seem high as the values go down. In the end it balances out, but it seems unfair as land prices decline. 

In our county, they divide it in thirds and each year an area is up for major review, so perhaps that's a reason for the increase also.

We just got our first valuation notice today, can't remember the percentage increase, but it was high.

My initial reaction was a bit of disgruntlement, especially since the NRD recently decreased the number of irrigated acres on that farm as we're going through that certification process.   Wondering if we could decrease the value on that acre portion since it's worth less if we can't irrigate as much as we had previously had registered with the state.  I know it will never happen. 



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Honored Advisor

Re: Protest land valuation change?

I have always been successful in reducing real estate tax values. Farm 160 gives you the broad strokes.

Start by looking for mistakes. As the assessors and I went over each tract one revaluation, he kept pointing across the path to a neighbor's open field parced, when we were discussing our wooded, easily-eroded parcel with a large pond on it. I had been working from the cards, not the maps, so hadn't caught it.

Both had road frontage, which also impacts was just an 8- acre tract, but it was a five-figure misvaluation, based on the tax map being wrong that saves us every year now. Maps can be changed, too so never assume they are right.

Also, if there is something unique about your land, that reduces its value, document that. My home farm in Virginia was mined for heavy mineral sanda. It is essentially just holding the world together now...we are hoping to make hay off of what used to be 6000- pounds per acre peanut soils. It won't grow, a real placeholder.

I challenged the assessor's valuation, citing no building potential ( foundations would have to be engoneered to the " basement" where they dug,essentially all but the wetlands, 60 feet deep), cannot site a septic system, cannot break out land ot it will completely wash away, it even has a new, post-mined soil typing.

I challenged the guy to find a comparable sale...not one square inch there has been sold since the 1980s, when the mineral deposit was discovered as economically viable. He said " Uncle!" He asked me what I thought it was worth, and we settled on a vale about half what his firm had placed on it.

You really have to use their tools:comparable sales, or at least compatable properties. I have always picked up values on parcels owned by a couple of land hogs. My father taught me that they wait until late in the appeals to challenge their values. I would go in behind them, and look for the red changes on the books, where they had thrown their weight around.

Just saying " no way this land is wirth that much!" is not going to get you where you want to go. Those guys have standards they follow, and you have to learn their game to play it successfully.

I used to get held back to meet with the head of the reassessing firm...actually had them ask for me...and I do not know why. I know the lady who worked for the county once did it, just because the guy had met with my Daddy a day or two before my hearing.

My married name was, ofcourse, different from his last name, but he suddenly sat back during our hearing, and holloered out to the staffer, " Diane, why does this lady seem so familiar?"

She laughed and said, " Remember Mr. _________?"

That was one firm. The next revaluation they had a different firm hired, the owner requested to meet with me at the end of the day. We sat and went over Mike's property and mine with a fine tooth comb. I learned loads of stuff from that old guy, and we had a great sparring match in the process.

Go in and act like the professional you are...they hear so much whining, they need some cheese to go with it. Use data to support your position.
Honored Advisor


Remember that if you don't get to where you want with the assessors, further appeals are available to you. Here in VA, we have a board that hears our secondary appeals. I have been there once, and gained partial success. It was worth the time and energy.

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