Emmet County Iowa Assessor's Office
Emmet County Courthouse
609 1st Avenue North
Estherville, IA 51334
Office hours: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, M-F
2019 Ag Rollback
2019 Ag Rollback and assessed/taxable value changes
Programs Administered by the Assessor's Office
Homestead Tax Credit
Any property owner in the State of Iowa who lives in the property can receive a homestead tax credit. To be eligible, a homeowner must occupy the homestead any six months out of the year, but must reside there on July 1. The current credit is equal to the actual tax levy on the first $4,850 of actual value. See Code of Iowa Chapter 425
Military Service Tax Exemption
It is the responsibility of each person who qualifies for and wishes to receive a military exemption, to make application with the city or county assessor and also have their discharge papers (DD214) recorded in the appropriate county. Application is to be made prior to July 1 of the claim year.
Iowa residents who meet one of the following service requirements are eligible for the exemption:
- Honorably discharged veteran who served for a minimum aggregate of eighteen months.
- Honorably discharged veteran who served fewer than eighteen months because of a service related injury.
- Honorably discharged former member of Reserve Forces or Iowa National Guard who served at least 20 years.
- Member of Reserve Forces or Iowa National Guard who have served at least 20 years and continue to serve.
- Honorably discharged former member of the Armed Forces if any portion of their term of enlistment would have occurred within the Korean Conflict but who opted to serve 5 years in the reserve forces as allowed by Federal law.
- Honorably discharged veteran who served in an eligible service period (Iowa Code Chapter 35)
Application must be made with the Assessor on or before July 1 of the year the exemption is first claimed. The military certificate of satisfactory service, order transferring to inactive status, reserve, retirement, order of separation from service or honorable discharge must be recorded in the office of the county recorder. Members of the Reserve Forces or Iowa National Guard who have served at least 20 years and continue to serve shall record the veteran’s retirement points accounting statement issued by the armed forces of the United States, the state adjutant general, or the adjutant general of any other state. The exemption from taxation is $2,778 for WWI veterans and $1,852 for all other service periods. If the qualified veteran does not claim the exemption the spouse, unmarried widow(er), minor child or widowed parent may be eligible to claim the exemption. (Refer to Iowa Code Chapter 426A)
Disabled Veterans Homestead Tax Credit
Iowa residents who are an owner of a homestead property, and meet one of the following eligibility criteria are eligible for this credit which is equal to 100% of the actual tax levy.
1a. A veteran of any of the military forces of the United States, who acquired the homestead under 38 U.S.C. §21.801, 21.802, or 38 U.S.C. §2101, 2102.
1b. A veteran as defined in Section 35.1 with a permanent service-connected disability rating of 100%, or a permanent and total disability rating based on individual unemployability that is compensated at the 100% disability rate.
1c. A former member of the National Guard of any state who otherwise meets the service requirements of Iowa Code section 35.1, subsection 2, paragraph “b”, subsection (2) or (7), with a permanent service-connected disability rating of 100%, or a permanent and total disability rating based on individual unemployability that is compensated at the 100% disability rate.
1d. An individual who is a surviving spouse or a child who is receiving dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) pursuant to 38 U.S.C. §1301 et seg.
To get this credit, the applicant needs to file an application with the Assessor on or before July 1 of the year the credit is first claimed, along with a DD214 and a current Benefits Paid letter issued within 12 months of the application date. Once the application is approved, reapplication for successive years is not required as long as the property is owned by someone who falls under one of the four categories of ‘owner’ listed in Iowa Code section 425.15, and used as a homestead by that person on July 1 of each of those successive years.
A surviving spouse of a veteran receiving the disabled veteran homestead tax credit also continues to receive the credit, as long as the spouse lives in the homestead and does not remarry.
Written notification must be provided to the assessor if the circumstances change which would result in a taxpayer being ineligible for the credit, or conveyance of this property, or its discontinued use as your homestead.
The Veteran who qualifies for the Disabled Veteran Homestead Tax Credit may not claim a military service tax exemption on any property located in Iowa.
Family Farm Tax Credit
This is a tax credit on agricultural tracts of land 10 acres or more that are farmed by the owner or designated family members (this includes spouse, parent, grandparent, great grandparent, child, grandchild, great grandchild, stepchild, brother, sister uncle, aunt, niece, nephew; does NOT include cousin.) Applications are filed in the Assessor’s Office.
Family Farm One-Time Filing
If a claim for the family farm credit is filed by November 1, and approved, further filing is not required provided the claimant owns the property on July 1 of subsequent years and the designated person actively engaged in farming the property remains the same. A claim filed after November 1 shall be considered as a claim filed for the following year.
If the ownership changes, the new owner must re-file for the credit and if the “designated person” changes, the owner must re-file for the credit.
The owner must notify the Assessor in writing of a change in the “designated person”. Failure to do so will result in a penalty.
Contact the Assessor’s office for more information on the complexities of this law. (Refer to Iowa Code Chapter 425A)
Forest and Fruit Tree Exemption
Any person who establishes a forest or fruit-tree reservation as provided in Iowa Code Chapter 427C shall be entitled to the tax exemption as provided by law.
On any tract of land in the state of Iowa, the owner or owners may select a permanent forest reservation or reservations, each not less than two acres in continuous area, or a fruit-tree reservation or reservations, not less than one nor more than ten acres in total area, or both, and upon compliance with the provisions of this chapter, such owner or owners shall be entitled to the benefits provided by law.
A forest reservation shall contain not less than two hundred growing forest trees on each acre. If the area selected is a forest containing the required number of growing forest trees, it shall be accepted as a forest reservation under this chapter provided application is made or on file on or before February 1st of the exemption year. If any buildings are standing on an area selected as a forest reservation under this section or a fruit-tree reservation under section 427C.7 one acre of that area shall be excluded from the tax exemption. However, the exclusion of that acre shall not affect the area’s meeting the acreage requirement of section 427C.2.
Removal of Trees
Not more than one-fifth of the total number of trees in any forest reservation may be removed in any one year, excepting in cases where the trees die naturally.
The ash, black cherry, black walnut, butternut, catalpa, coffee tree, the elms, hackberry, the hickories, honey locust, Norway and Carolina poplars, mulberry, the oaks, sugar maple, cottonwood, soft maple, Osage orange, basswood, black locust, European larch and other coniferous trees, and all other forest trees introduced into the state for experimental purposes, shall be considered forest trees within the meaning of this chapter. In forest reservations which are artificial groves, the willows, box elder, and other poplars shall be included among forest trees for the purposes of this chapter when they are used as protecting borders not exceeding two rows in width around a forest reservation, or when they are used as nurse trees for forest trees in such forest reservation, the number of such nurse trees not to exceed one hundred on each acre; provided that only box elder shall be used as nurse trees.
The trees of a forest reservation shall be in groves not less than four rods wide except when the trees are growing or are planted in or along a gully or ditch to control erosion in which case any width will qualify provided the area meets the size requirement of two acres.
Fruit-Tree Reservation – Duration of Exemption
A fruit-tree reservation shall contain on each acre, at least forty apple trees, or seventy other fruit trees, growing under proper care and annually pruned and sprayed. A reservation may be claimed as a fruit-tree reservation, under this chapter, for a period of eight years after planting provided application is made or on file or before February 1st of the exemption year.
The cultivated varieties of apples, crabs, plums, cherries, peaches, and pears shall be considered fruit trees within the meaning of this chapter.
When any tree or trees on a fruit-tree or forest reservation shall be removed or die, the owner or owners of such reservation shall, within one year, plant and care for other fruit or forest trees, in order that the number of such trees may not fall below that required by this chapter.
Restraint of Livestock and Limitation On Use
Cattle, horses, mules, sheep, goats, ostriches, rheas, emus, and swine shall not be permitted upon a fruit-tree or forest reservation. Fruit-tree and forest reservations shall not be used for economic gain other than the gain from raising fruit or forest trees.
If the owner or owners of a fruit-tree or forest reservation violate any provision of this chapter within the two years preceding the making of an assessment, the assessor shall not list any tract belonging to such owner or owners, as a reservation within the meaning of this chapter, for the ensuing two years.
Application – Inspection – Continuation of Exemption – Recapture of tax
It shall be the duty of the assessor to secure the facts relative to fruit-tree and forest reservations by taking the sworn statement, or affirmation, of the owner or owners making application under this chapter; and to make special report to the county auditor of all reservations made in the county under the provisions of this chapter.
The board of supervisors shall designate the county conservation board or the assessor who shall inspect the area for which an application is filed for a fruit-tree or forest reservation tax exemption before the application is accepted. Use of aerial photographs may be substituted for on-site inspection when appropriate. The application can only be accepted if it meets the criteria established by the natural resource commission to be a fruit-tree or forest reservation. Once the application has been accepted, the area shall continue to receive the tax exemption during each year in which the area is maintained as a fruit-tree or forest reservation without the owner having to refile. If the property is sold or transferred, the seller shall notify the buyer that all, or part of, the property is in fruit-tree or forest reservation and subject to the recapture tax provisions of this section. The tax exemption shall continue to be granted for the remainder of the eight-year period for fruit-tree reservation and for the following years for forest reservation or until the property no longer qualifies as a fruit-tree or forest reservation. The area may be inspected each year by the county conservation board or the assessor to determine if the area is maintained as a fruit-tree or forest reservation. If the area is not maintained or is used for economic gain other than as a fruit-tree reservation during any year of the eight-year exemption period and any year of the following five years or as a forest reservation during any year for which the exemption is granted and any of the five years following those exemption years, the assessor shall assess the property for taxation at its fair market value as of January 1 of that year and in addition the area shall be subject to a recapture tax. However, the area shall not be subject to the recapture tax if the owner, including one possessing under a contract of sale, and the owner’s direct antecedents or descendants have owned the area for more than ten years. The tax shall be computed by multiplying the consolidated levy for each of those years, if any, of the five preceding years for which the area received the exemption for fruit-tree or forest reservation times the assessed value of the area that would have been taxed but for the tax exemption. This tax shall be entered against the property on the tax list for the current year and shall constitute a lien against the property in the same manner as a lien for property taxes. The tax when collected shall be apportioned in the manner provided for the apportionment of the property taxes for the applicable tax year.
Report To Department of Natural Resources
The county assessor shall keep a record of all forest and fruit-tree reservations in the county and submit a report of the reservations to the department of natural resources not later than June 15 of each year. See Code of Iowa Chapter 427C.
Pollution Control Tax Exemption
Provides an exemption for certain pollution control and recycling property. Exemption is limited to market value of property used primarily for pollution control or recycling. Must be certified as eligible by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Application must be filed with the assessor no later than February 1. See Code of Iowa Chapter 427.
Business Property Tax Credit
The Business Property Tax Credit (BPTC) is a credit against taxes based on valuation, for commercial, industrial, and railroad property. The deadline for applying in the local assessor’s office is July 1st of the same year.
Property owners may claim and receive one credit for each eligible parcel unless the parcel is a part of a property unit for which a credit is claimed. A property unit is defined in the law as “contiguous parcels all of which are located within the same county, with the same property tax classification, are owned by the same person, and operated by that person for a common use and purpose.” Eligible parcels, or property units, must be classified and taxed as commercial, industrial, or railroad property.
The law excluded properties which will be reclassified to the new multi-residential classification in 2015. These property types include: mobile home parks, manufactured home communities, land-leased communities, assisted living facilities (as defined in section 441.21, subsection 13, enacted in this law), and any property primarily used or intended for human habitation containing three or more separate dwelling units. Therefore, apartment buildings, dwellings converted to 3 or more apartments, and Section 42 Housing are excluded. Also excluded, are residential and agricultural properties that may have home businesses or are rental properties.
For information on the recently established Business Property Tax Credit under SF 295 please click the link below:
Programs Administered by the Assessor's Office
January 1 – Effective date of current assessment.
April 2 through April 25 – Property owner may request an informal review of their assessment by the assessor.
April 2 through April 30 – Protest of assessment period for filing with the local Board of Review.
May 1 through adjournment – Board of Review meets each year.
October 9 through October 31 – Protest period for filing with Board of Review on those properties affected by changes in value as a result of the Director of Revenue Equalization Orders (odd numbered years).
Property Owner Legal Responsibility
It is your responsibility to report to the Assessor changes or improvements to your real estate. 441.24 (1) Code of Iowa provides:
If a person refuses to furnish the verified statement by the assessor, or to list the corporation’s or person’s property, the director of revenue and finance or assessor, as the case may be, shall proceed to list and assess the property according to the best information obtainable and shall add to the taxable valuation one hundred percent thereof, which valuation and penalty shall be separately shown, and shall constitute the assessment; and if the valuation of the property is changed by a board of review or an appeal from a board of review, a like penalty shall be added to the valuation thus fixed.
There are many things you should report to your local assessor like:
• New buildings
• Buildings removed, torn down or damaged by fire or flood
• Remodeling (interior and exterior)
• Additions to house or buildings
• New furnace/central air
• Mobile homes
• Basement or attic finish
• Decks, patios, garages
• Please call your local assessor’s office to report any changes to your property. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.
The assessor is charged with several administrative and statutory duties: however the primary duty and responsibility is to cause to be assessed all real property within his/her jurisdiction except that which is otherwise provided by law. This would include residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural classes of property. Real property is revalued every two years. The effective date of the assessment is January 1st of the current year. The Assessor determines a full or partial value of new construction or improvements depending upon the state of completion as of January 1st.
What the Assessor Does NOT Do
The Assessor does NOT:
• Collect Taxes • Calculate Taxes • Determine Tax rate • Set policy for the Board of Review
The Assessor is concerned only with VALUE, not TAXES
Taxing jurisdictions such as county, school, cities and townships, adopt budgets after public hearings. This determines the tax levy, which is the rate of taxation required to raise the money budgeted. The taxes you pay are proportionate to the value of your property compared to the total value of the taxing district in which your property is located.
Reducing Property Tax Liability
There are ways to lower property taxes by challenging property tax assessments when they are found to be inequitable or erroneous. Although the assessor has no hand in budget spending within a taxing district, they do determine the assessed value of all real property, and in some states personal property.
Property tax bills are generated to support city/county services to taxpayers. Basically, the bill is generated by multiplying the assessed value of a property times the tax rate for the district where the property is located.
Taxpayers who can demonstrate that the assessed value on a given property is too high can possibly lower the tax bill for that property.
Detailed below are six simple, but effective actions taxpayers can take in order to make a successful argument to lower the assessed value on their property:
1. Review the current assessment from the county assessor’s office and look for obvious errors with regard to size, description or condition of the property in question.
2. Compare the assessed value of the property in question with similar properties in the same neighborhood and look for discrepancies. Assessments are public information and are available at the city/county assessor’s office or via internet access through the assessor’s web site.
3. Check recent sales prices of homes in the same neighborhood that are similar to the property in question. These prices are also public information or can be obtained from a local Realtor or via internet access to the assessor’s web site.
4. Have a new appraisal performed by a reputable certified appraiser.
5. List factors that could decrease the value of a property as of the assessment date. Factors that could lower a property’s value are deteriorating condition, undesirable neighborhood influences like smells, air quality or heavy street traffic and declining market prices.
6. Be sure to take advantage of special exemptions. Some states provide tax reductions for veterans and senior citizens. Some states also provide reductions for historic buildings and special energy efficient systems. areas called urban revitalization or tax incremental financing districts also may provide some incentives for tax reduction.
Documentation of your case before an appeal board should include photographs of the property in question and a complete explanation of any detrimental factors affecting the property value.
You should contact your local assessment office for rules and procedures governing the assessed valuation appeal.