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This is a list of words and phrases that explain some of the words we use when we talk about property assessment.

If you can’t find the word you need, please send us a message using our contact form.

Real market value of all property, real and personal, means the amount in cash that could reasonably be expected to be paid by an informed buyer to an informed seller, each acting without compulsion in an arm’s-length transaction occurring as of the assessment date for the tax year.

The Assessment office figures out the real market value of your property by looking at it and comparing it to other properties that are similar to yours. They do this when you first get your property. After that, they may use information from other sales of similar properties to update the real market value of your property every year. Some types of property, like farms or forests, have different ways of calculating their real market value.

Each individual property is taxed on its assessed value. A property’s assessed value is the lower of its real market value or its maximum assessed value.

If you own land in the countryside that you use for farming or forest, you might be able to pay less tax on it. This is because the government wants to encourage people to keep using their land for these purposes. To do this, they lower the value of your land for tax purposes (special assessed value), so you pay less than what your land is really worth (real market value).

But if you stop using your land for farming or forest, you might have to pay back some of the tax you saved. This is to make sure that people don’t abuse the system and get a lower tax rate without doing anything on their land.

The legal term (since measure 50) for what we used to call “operating levies.” It is a voter-approved tax for maintaining a program or service.

An ESD provides services to your local school district.

Property Class categorizes property by use, zone, or assessment program.

This determines the districts, which receive taxes from a property. Those districts are identified on the right side of the tax statement.

Each property has a maximum assessed value, or MAV, that limits how much it can be taxed. The MAV was first set in the 1997-98 tax year, based on the property’s value in 1995-96. To get the MAV, the property’s value in 1995-96 was reduced by 10 percent.

For example, if a property was worth $100,000 in 1995-96, its MAV in 1997-98 would be $90,000. The MAV can only go up by 3 percent every year, unless something happens to the property.

Some things that can make the MAV go up more than 3 percent are:

  • Changes in the property value as the result of new property or new improvements to property.
  • The property is partitioned or subdivided.
  • The property is rezoned and used consistently with rezoning.
  • The property is first taken into account as omitted property.
  • The property becomes disqualified from exemption.

New construction affects MAV if it increases the value of the property by more than $18,200 in any one year or $45,000 within any consecutive five years. Thresholds indexed annually starting with tax years 2025-26.

The CPR is calculated every year by dividing the average Maximum Assessed Value of all unchanged properties in the county by the average Real Market Value of all unchanged properties in the county in the same property classification.

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