Assessment and Taxation FAQs

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Business & Floating Personal Property
I just received a Confidential Personal Property Return. What is it?

A Confidential Personal Property Return is used to list all taxable personal property which you own, posses, or control in the operation of your business or for floating property owners. Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 308.290 requires every business owning taxable personal property and every owner of floating property to file an annual return with the assessor of the county in which property is located. 

Can I get an Extension to file my Confidential Personal Property Return?

No, House Bill 2484 passed by the Legislature in 2015 changed the filing due date from March 1 to March 15 and eliminated the ability to request an extension.  All returns that are filed late receive a penalty. The penalty is a percentage of the taxes and is 5%, 25%, or 50% depending on how late the return is filed.

Is Personal Property taxed at a different rate than Real Property?

No, they are taxed using the same rates as real property based on the location (tax code area) of the property.

Property Ownership and Cartography
I married last month and want to change the name on my property but I don't want to add my husband's name. What should I do?

You may do one of the following: Record a document deeding the property from your old name to your new name. Complete a "Request for Change of Assessor's Records" form and attach a copy of the marriage certificate. The ownership record in the Assessor's Office will be changed as follows:
New last name (old last name) first name, i.e. Jones (Brown) Elizabeth.

My ex-wife and I divorced two years ago. Why does her name still show on your ownership records?

If you want to remove her name, you need to provide us with a copy of the Circuit Court document or other legal document that granted the property to you.

My spouse passed away a year ago. How do I remove her/his name from ownership records in the Assessor's Office?

The death certificate must be recorded with the County Clerk. Complete a "Request for Change of Assessor's Records" form. If the death certificate was recorded in a county other than Columbia County, attach a copy of the death certificate to the request form.

I have purchased additional property and I now get two real property tax statements. Can I have the two tax lots combined so that I only get one tax statement?

Yes, as long as the properties are on the same tax lot map, share a common border, the name of the buyer listed on both deeds is exactly the same and all the real property taxes on both tax lots have been paid.  If there is a taxing district boundary line passing through your property, even though the Assessor combines the two tax lots, you will get two tax statements because the taxes may be calculated using different tax rates. Complete a "Request to Segregate or Combine Tax Lot(s)" form.

Farm and Forest Deferral Programs
I just purchased property under a special assessment program. If I fail to meet the requirements for the special assessment, am I responsible for prior year's taxes if the property is disqualified?

Yes, the special assessment is attached to the land and the potential tax liability is transferred to the buyer at the time of the sale.

Can I get an estimate of taxes for disqualification to see what the potential tax liability may be?

No, we do not currently have the staffing and resources to calculate the potential tax liability unless it is actually being disqualified.  You can, however, calculate a rough estimate by using the Special Assessment Disqualification Estimate Worksheet.

I received a farm income questionnaire, however I just purchased this property. Who is responsible for obtaining the income information?

It is the current landowner's responsibility to obtain income information. You may need to contact your realtor or the seller to assist you in filling out the questionnaire.

What happens if I am unable to meet the income requirements or obtain the income information from the previous owner?

If you are farming, the land will be assessed at market value and the disqualification tax will be "abated". This means that for each year you farm the property, one year of the additional tax is forgiven and after five years there is no additional tax remaining. If you meet the income requirements for 3 out of the last 5 years, you may reapply for the special assessment. If you do not farm the property, the disqualification tax amount will remain as a lien but will not be added to the tax statement unless the land changes to a use in which it could not be returned to farming.

I just received a farm income questionnaire, however my property is zoned exclusive farm use. Do I have to farm the property to retain the farm use special assessment?

Yes, although properties that are zoned exclusive farm use do not require an application and are not required to meet minimum income requirements like non-EFU zoned properties are, there still must by farming activity taking place to qualify for the special assessment. You must be using the property "exclusively for farm use" in order to qualify.

What constitutes "used exclusively for farm use"?

Oregon Revised Statute 308A.056 gives a comprehensive definition of "farm use". In part it entails "...the current employment of land for the primary purpose obtaining a profit in money". In other words you have to be actively farming the property and attempting to make money from it. One cow on 100 acres is not enough to qualify. If the land does not qualify it can be disqualified from farm use assessment and assessed at the property's full market value.

The property I purchased was logged prior to the sale. How can I continue to qualify for special assessment as forestland?

Land that has been logged must be replanted within two years and must meet the minimum stocking requirements as set by the state forester. You need to submit a forest management plan with your application.

What is a forest management plan?

A forest management plan explains how the land is being maintained for the best growth of the trees such as clearing brush, spraying weeds, etc. if the parcel has been logged, the plan must also include the month and year it will be planted and the type of seedlings that will be used.

The application for designation of land as forest Land asks if the property has been platted under ORS Chapter 92. What is ORS Chapter 92?

ORS Chapter 92 are the statutes governing the creation of subdivisions and partition plats.

Manufactured Dwellings
I purchased a manufactured home, what do I need to do?

You first need to contact the Assessor of the county in which the home is located.  All taxes must be current.  We can process the application for you as long as the information submitted is complete.  If you want to process your application online through BCD, you must first obtain a signed county notification certificate.

The market value of my manufactured home from the most recent property tax bill is more than I paid for it. I thought manufactured homes depreciate in value so how can that be?

We have found that manufactured homes will increase or decrease in value depending on the current real estate market.  We collect data on sales of manufactured homes every year and compare the sales prices to the current real market value.  Manufactured structure values are then adjusted annually based on the sales analysis.

Residential Appraisal
How does the market value given on the property tax statement compare with what the property would actually sell for?

Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 308.232 requires the assessor to appraise each piece of property at 100 percent of the real market value as of the assessment date (January 1 preceding mailing the tax statement). However, with over 28,000 accounts it would be impossible to accurately appraise each property every year. Typically, an appraised value can be five percent high or low and still be considered accurate. While our values are as accurate as possible and should provide some indication of what your property would sell for, a better indicator would be to hire an independent fee appraiser.

I built a new home last year but when I received my tax statement there was no value added for the new home. Should I call the assessor's office or just keep quiet?

You should definitely call the assessor's office. While there may be a good reason why you are not being taxed on the new home, if it was a mistake, regardless of whose mistake it was, when it is eventually discovered, the assessor can go back six years to correct the mistake and collect back taxes for each of those years. It is better to pay the correct amount each year than to pay six years worth of taxes all at one time.

What would the reason be that the new home was not taxed?

It is all a matter of timing. When you get the tax statement in October, the value is based on the previous January 1. If you did not start the new home until February, 2019 you would not pay taxes on it until you got your tax statement in October, 2020.

I am thinking of adding a bedroom and bathroom to my house. How much will this raise my taxes?

A variety of factors come into play and because of the complexities of Oregon's property tax system, there is no short answer to your question. An appraiser that has been registered with the State of Oregon will visit your property and a determination of the additional market value will be calculated. This additional value will be computed based on proven and accepted professional mass appraisal methods. After the market value of your addition has been measured, your tax liability will be determined according to Oregon Revised Statutes.

Am I paying taxes on the road (or street) in front of my property?

If your property fronts a county road, county "public way", city street (whether the city is incorporated or not) or subdivision street and the road or street is actually used as a public right of way the answer is no.
If your property fronts a "private drive" that is used by several property owners or an unincorporated city street that is not used as a street, then the area of property that you own within the road or street would be taxable to you.

Will I be notified before a county property appraiser comes to inspect my property to schedule an appointment?

No, we do not have the staffing resources to set appointments.  During reappraisal, each appraiser may inspect and appraise an average of 50 properties per week.  If they determine that they need to talk to the owner for more information, they will leave a door hanger on the front door requesting contact.

Must I allow a physical inspection by a county property appraiser?

No, if you ask the appraiser to leave, he or she will leave the boundaries of your property.  However, any changes to your property will need to be estimated from the public roadway or from information provided on permits or other means such as aerial photos in order to meet our legal requirement to appraise all properties at 100% real market value.

I posted a ‘No Trespassing’ sign. Will that prevent an appraiser from entering my property?

No, if the appraiser is completing a reappraisal and no changes are visible, he or she may enter as far as the front door to see if anyone is home.  If there is no answer, a door hanger may be left asking you to call.  If changes to the property are visible, we will measure and inspect the new improvements in order to meet our legal requirement to appraise all property at 100% real market value.

230 Strand St.
Columbia County Courthouse Annex
St. Helens ,
OR
97051
Fax: 503-397-5153

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
We are closed the second Thursday of each month from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for staff work sessions and training.
Assessor
Sue Martin