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What does a Property Assessor Do?
The Loudon County Assessor of Property is a Tennessee constitutionally elected official who serves at the pleasure of the Loudon County citizens for a four-year term of office. It is the Assessor's responsibility to discover, list, classify, and value all property within the county for tax purposes.
Taxable property is divided into two classes: real property and personal property. Real property includes land and all buildings, structures, and improvements to the land. Personal property is machinery, equipment, fixtures, furniture, and other items that are movable in nature. Despite what the name implies, “personal property” does not denote to property held for private, non-commercial use. Only business and industry pay taxes on personal property in Tennessee.
The Assessor's job is multi-faceted and involves the performance of the following major duties:
To ensure that all real property that legally should be on the county assessment roll is properly listed, classified and valued, it must first be located and identified. The process of discovery is continuous, as it seeks to capture all new construction, additions, and demolitions, as well as changes to land use and configuration. To accomplish this, assessment personnel track building permits, property sales, zoning changes, and a host of other sources for information about property status. In addition, all sectors of the county -- urban, suburban, and rural -- are visually inspected on a routine basis.
Discovery of personal property is accomplished by identifying new businesses operating in the county and through audits of personal property schedules. All businesses are required to submit or update schedules listing all personal property by March 1 of each year. Failure to return a schedule may result in a “forced” filing by the assessor, using data gleaned from similar businesses across the state.
Tangible Personal Property Schedule (Requires Adobe Reader)
There are more than 1,630 accounts on the personal property tax rolls of Loudon County, representing more than $100 million in assessed value and $1.84 million in annual tax revenue. Utilities and other public service properties are assessed by the State of Tennessee.
After locating property, assessing personnel must accurately record and list that property and all of its characteristics to properly assign a value. All structures and extra features are measured, and amenities that affect market value such as bathrooms, interior and exterior trim, floor finish, roofing type, etc. are noted for quantity and quality. After all the data on a property has been collected, the information is compared to all similar properties in the county using a computer-assisted mass appraisal system. Maintained by the state of Tennessee on behalf of each county, the Computer Assisted Assessment System (CAAS) contains the property characteristics of all land and buildings in the county.
Along with assigning a value to property, the Assessor also establishes the classification or “use category” for each property. This determines the assessment level that will be used in taxation for that property. Tennessee law establishes the following assessment levels for different property classes:
- Residential - 25%
- Commercial and Industrial - 40%
- Farm - 25%
- Exempt - 0%
- Public Utility - 55% (both real and personal)
- Personal Property - 30%
The rules governing the tax appraisal process in Tennessee are based upon the same principles and procedures that are used throughout the appraisal profession. There are three basic approaches to the valuation of real property:
- The market approach involves comparison of a property to other properties with similar characteristics that have recently been sold. Residential property is appraised primarily using the market approach.
- The cost approach involves estimating the replacement cost of a structure, and adjusting that estimate to account for depreciation.
- The income approach is an analysis of a property's value based on its capacity to generate revenue for the owner.
The goal of the Assessor is to estimate fair market value for all property in the county. Fair market value is defined as how much a property would sell for, in an open market, under normal conditions. To determine market values, the assessor must be familiar with all aspects of the local real estate market, such as: what different types of properties are selling for, local construction and repair costs, normal operating expenses, typical rents, and current financing charges for borrowing money to build or buy property.
State law requires the Assessor to produce an annual tax roll listing all property that is subject to ad valorem (according to value) taxation. Value is not a static measure and, in fact, the value of any object or property changes continuously based on market forces. To ensure that appraised values remain fair and equitable, all properties in Loudon County are re-appraised every four years. This is an ongoing process, which begins immediately after the previous re-appraisal is completed.
Each year, about one-third of the county’s 30,000+ properties are visually inspected so that by the fourth year, all property data has been updated and ready for the county-wide re-appraisal. (Loudon County’s next reappraisal year is 2009.)
Each year, the assessor is required to create and maintain an assessment roll detailing all county property, its owner, and its value. This roll, with preliminary, or tentative assessments, is made available for public inspection in May. Property owners whose property has changed in value are notified by mail in April of those changes and are given an opportunity to appeal any values they feel are inconsistent with the fair market value of their property. The County Board of Equalization, after hearing owners’ appeals and ordering any changes they feel are warranted, makes the assessment roll final for that year. The Assessor of Property then turns the roll over to local taxing authorities.
The Office of the Assessor is open from 8:00 to 4:30, M-F for walk-ins and phone calls. Providing fast and courteous public information to assist taxpayers and the general public with questions regarding property ownership, assessment, and recent property sales is a core function of this office.
The Assessor’s office handles thousands of requests annually from current or prospective property owners, as well as from the real estate, legal, and banking communities.
Now that you have a better idea of what the Assessor of Property does, here are a few things that the Assessor does not do:
- Set the tax rate
- Generate or send out tax bills
- Collect taxes
Tax rates for Loudon County and each municipality are set each year by the respective legislative bodies (county commission and city councils). The amount of revenue needed is based on the budgets passed to fund programs and services (Click here to see where your county property tax dollars go).
The County Trustee uses the tax rate and the assessment roll produced by the Assessor to create and send out tax bills to all county property owners. The Trustee is also responsible for collecting property taxes.
Equitable assessments assure that property owners pay their fair share – and only their fair share -- of the costs of government services, such as schools and libraries, police and fire protection, road construction and maintenance, water, sanitation, and other basic public services. To this end, the Assessor of Property is responsible to the taxpayers of Loudon County to ensure that all property is valued in accordance with state laws, that no property escapes the assessment process or is under-assessed, and that no property owner receives preferential treatment.
To obtain assessment information for a parcel in Loudon County, visit: