All property owners have the right to appeal the assessment of their property. If an owner thinks that a property is assessed greater than market value or unequal in relation to similar properties, an appeal should be filed. An assessment appeal is an argument regarding the accuracy or equality of the assessment, not a complaint about the tax amount. A complaint about taxes, or tax increases, should be made to the various governing boards during budget hearings.
Pennington County provides all assessment information to the public on the internet at no charge, and county staff members are willing to help anyone access that information. In addition, a property owner should consider the professional services of a real estate agent or real estate appraiser. These professionals will be able to provide evidence of property value that may be presented to the Director of Equalization and board of equalization.
A notice of appeal for a property located within a city, town, or organized township must be submitted in writing to the clerk of the township no later than the Thursday preceding the third Monday in March. The appeal will then be heard by that local township at a public meeting. If the property owner is not satisfied with the decision of that board, an appeal can be submitted in writing to the County Auditor no later than the first Tuesday in April. If the property is located outside of any local municipality, this would be the first step in the appeal process. The appeal will then be heard by the County Board of Equalization at a public meeting. Please include a phone number with all written correspondence.
If a property owner is not satisfied with the decision from the County Board of Equalization, an appeal can be made to the circuit court or to the Office of Hearing Examiners in Pierre. An appeal to the circuit court will prevent an appeal to the Office of Hearing Examiners, but an appeal to the Office of Hearing Examiners will still allow the option to further appeal to the circuit court. Notice of appeal to the Office of Hearing Examiners must be made in writing to that office no later than the third Friday in May. Appeals to the circuit court must be made within thirty days of publication of the decision from the County Board of Equalization.
A property owner considering an appeal should contact the Pennington County Director of Equalization prior to the deadline for notice of appeal. Office staff members are willing to discuss the assessment and the property owner’s concerns. The property owner should make an appointment for equalization staff appraisers to inspect the property and ensure that the Director of Equalization has correct property data on file. Any error in data will be corrected. If the property assessment is incorrect, the Director of Equalization will recommend a change in assessment to the appropriate board of equalization. If the office of the Director of Equalization does not agree that the assessment is in error, the property owner will be informed of the support for the assessment that will be presented to the board of equalization in the event of an appeal. Contacting the office prior to an appeal will better inform both the property owner and the Director of Equalization.
An appeal is a formal argument to a governing board at a public meeting regarding the property assessment. The board of appeal will hear and consider the property owner’s argument regarding the inaccuracy of the assessment and the Director of Equalization’s justification and support for the assessment before making a decision to change, or not to change, the assessment. Property owners should be prepared to provide some evidence in support of changing the property assessment.
Property owners may access assessment and property data information for their property and any other property in the county at the county’s website, by clicking on the Pennington County Property Search link along the left side, the property owner may search for a property and print the property data sheet. This information should be reviewed, and any errors brought to the attention of the office of the Director of Equalization. The Director of Equalization would like all property data to be correct.
Property owners may also access comparable sale information from the county’s website. The County/City Maps link, also along the left side of the website, will direct the property owner to RapidMap. RapidMap is an interactive map of Pennington County that provides a variety of property information. The comparable sales layer in RapidMap will allow anyone to view every sale of real property in Pennington County, along with sale price. Property owners considering an assessment appeal should review sales of similar properties as evidence of what their property might sell for.
The office of the Pennington County Director of Equalization is available to answer questions regarding the appeal process. However, the process and its deadlines are established by South Dakota statutes. A change in an annual assessment after March 1st can only be made by a board of equalization at a public meeting. The equalization office does not have the legal authority to circumvent the process or ignore the deadlines to change an assessment after March 1st.
Assessments for the year are set in South Dakota when the assessment notices are mailed in March. The appeal process finalizes those assessments. Any valuation errors discovered after the deadline for the appeal process cannot be corrected for that year. The county auditor will use the total assessment for calculation of levies for budget purposes through the remainder of the year, and taxes on the assessment will become due in January of the following year. However, staff within the office of the Director of Equalization is always available to discuss property information or valuation errors needing correction for the next assessment year.