A key hurdle property owners must overcome to win an assessment appeal got a seeming boost today from Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam.
In a letter posted on the assessor’s website, Washam said he thinks previous errors in the tax rolls have invalidated the “presumption of correctness” that lies with the county in tax appeal cases.
It’s unclear what effect this might have on cases before the Board of Equalization, and The News Tribune is working to get answers to questions about it.
Washam’s letter is the latest missive in his long campaign to bring the county’s assessments in line with rules that all properties be physically inspected at least once every six years. That wasn’t done from 2001 to 2008 in the previous administrator’s administration, an independent consultant found after studying the matter.
Washam refused last month to certify the county’s tax rolls for 2010, saying he couldn’t swear an oath that they were correct.
In his letter to taxpayers today, he wrote in part: “It is my personal opinion that the Presumption of Correctness…as well as the high burden of proof should not apply in Pierce County until such time as all Pierce County properties have received a lawful physical appraisal as required by law…”
In instructions for appealing a tax assessment, the Board of Equalization tells property owners: “When gathering evidence, it is important to keep in mind that, by law, the Assessor is presumed to be correct. The burden of proof is on you to show that the Assessor’s determination is incorrect. Evidence must be clear, cogent and convincing.”
You can read a copy of the appeal instructions here
Here’s a copy of Washam’s buletin, posted on his website today: