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Washam says ‘presumption of correctness’ shouldn’t apply in Pierce County

Post by Kris Sherman / The News Tribune on Aug. 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm with 4 Comments »
August 10, 2010 12:35 pm

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:

Washam bulletin Aug. 9, 2010

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. StayingAwake says:

    Have to disagree with you Kris, this document from Dale Washam is not a letter, but rather a sworn declaration given under penalty of perjury. I believe that is not a distinction without a difference.

    Should be interesting to see how the members of the Board of Equalization react to this. Most likely they will take the easy way out and hide behind the cover of law. But with no certification of the rolls, and now this sworn declaration attesting that they should not trust his office’s values, seems to me the board members are getting themselves into perilous waters.

    They might have to begin earning their keep.

  2. good job Dale. Wish we need to elect more public representatives that will rule by the letter of the law. The former Assessor did not do his job and I am happy that this was brought to the light of day. I am glad we fired Him!
    Keep on doing the right thing Dale!

  3. Washam’s been in office the same length as Obama. If Obama’s had time enough to fix the entire US economy and is to blame for the mess we’re in, then Washam has certainly had time to fix the tax rolls.

  4. EatonvilleTaxPayer says:

    If I was Washam I would refuse to sign off on the “correctness” of the property taxes as well. After unearthing and exposing the previous administration’s fraud and illegal actions of not performing physical inspections, how could anyone assume property owners have been taxed correctly.

    Catching up on 8 or so years of missed inspections must be a nightmare and until it is completed NONE of us are being taxed correctly. Taxes are in part figured by comparing similar properties within the same area–so how would one figure the tax on one property if all the surrounding properties are incorrect as well?

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