This information is only a summary of some relevant assessment law. You should read Assessment Law Basics to understand how assessments are set, as well as administrative and statutory law that may be relevant to your claims.

To read cases cited on this page, use Google Scholar Caselaw Search Engine.

Although every effort is made to provide accurate links to the most up-to-date versions of documents, you are advised to confirm you are viewing the appropriate document before relying on it. 

This website does not provide legal advice.

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Grounds for Your Appeal

You may choose one or more grounds for your protest and appeal. These grounds (claims) are found in Iowa Code section 441.37(1)(a)(1)(a-e).

  • You may appeal new grounds to PAAB in addition to those you protested to the local board of review.

Administrative Rules referenced in this section are in Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 701.

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The assessment is not equitable as compared with the assessment of other like property in the taxing district. 

Things to know

  • More than one comparable is required to show inequity. 
  • The subject property and comparable properties must be located in same assessing jurisdiction. 
  • Simply comparing assessed values or rates of change (percentage increase) in assessed values is not sufficient to prove inequity.

How to prove inequity:

  1. The subject property is assessed at a higher proportion of its value than comparable properties. Maxwell v. Shivers, 133 N.W.2d 709 (Iowa 1965).
    • "In order to obtain relief upon the ground that his property is assessed inequitably, it is essential that the taxpayer prove (1) that there are several other properties within a reasonable area similar and comparable to his; (2) the amount of the assessments on those properties; (3) the actual value of the comparable properties; (4) the actual value of his property; (5) the assessment complained of; and (6) that by a comparison his property is assessed at a higher proportion of its actual value than the ratio existing between the assessed and the actual valuations of the similar and comparable properties, thus creating a discrimination." Id
    • Need evidence of the subject and comparables’ market values and assessments. Typically this is done by comparing prior year sales to the current year assessed values. 
  2. The assessor has not uniformly applied an assessment method to the property. Eagle Food Cntrs. v. Bd. of Review of Davenport, 497 N.W.2d 860 (Iowa 1993).
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Over Assessed (Market Value)

The property is assessed for more than the value authorized by law.

Things to know:

  • Simply comparing assessed values or rates of change in assessed values is not sufficient to prove a property's assessment is excessive.

How to prove market value (over assessment):

  • The assessment is excessive and the property’s correct value. Soifer v. Floyd Cnty. Bd. of Review, 759 N.W.2d 775 (Iowa 2009).
    • For properties to be assessed at market value, you should consider normal sales prices of the subject property and/or comparables. Iowa Code section 441.21(1, 2). Where differences exist between the properties being compared, adjustments may be needed. 
    • Relevant evidence might include: An appraisal, sales listings, realtor analysis, recent comparable sales, pictures or inspection reports showing property deficiencies, or other evidence showing the property's assessment exceeds the value permitted under Iowa Code section 441.21 or other provisions of law. 
    • In addition to other websites, you may be able to search for sales on the assessor's website. For jurisdictions using the Beacon service, this Beacon sales search video shows how to search for sales. 
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Not Assessable, Misclassified, or Exempt

The property is not assessable, is exempt from taxes, or is misclassified.

Things to know:

  • If you claim your property is misclassified, read the property classification rules in Iowa Administrative Code R. 701-102.1 to determine what you must prove.  
  • The person appealing typically bears the burden to prove the property is misclassified.
  • "If the classification of a property has been previously adjudicated by the property assessment appeal board or a court as part of an appeal under this chapter, there is a presumption that the classification of the property has not changed for each of the four subsequent assessment years, unless a subsequent such adjudication of the classification of the property has occurred, and the burden of demonstrating a change in use shall be upon the person asserting a change to the property's classification." Iowa Code section 441.21(3)(b)(3).
  • When there are multiple uses of a property, the focus is on present and primary use. Sevde v. City of Ames Bd. of Review, 434 N.W.2d 878 (Iowa 1989).
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There is an error in the assessment and indicate the alleged error.

Things to know: 

  • Errors are typically erroneous mathematical computations or errors in listing the property. This can also include underassessment of the property. Iowa Administrative Code R. 701-102.20(4)
  • Must provide evidence demonstrating the error. In some cases errors can be corrected by asking the Assessor's Office to conduct a property inspection. 
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Fraud or Misconduct

There is fraud or misconduct in the assessment, which shall be specifically stated.

Things to know:

  • If the local board of review, PAAB, or district court decides in favor of the property owner or aggrieved taxpayer and finds that there was fraud or misconduct in the assessment, the property owner’s or aggrieved taxpayer’s reasonable costs incurred in bringing the protest or appeal shall be paid from the assessment expense fund under Iowa Code section 441.16. Costs include but are not limited to legal fees, appraisal fees, and witness fees.
  • Misconduct includes knowingly engaging in assessment methods, practices, or conduct that contravene any applicable law, administrative rule, or order of any court or government authority. Iowa Code section 441.9.
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Burden of Proof

Generally, the party appealing the assessment bears the burden of proving the grounds for the appeal by a preponderance of the evidence. Iowa Code section 441.21(3)

PAAB does not have any of the information you gave the local board of review. 

  • If you want PAAB to have information or evidence you gave to the local board of review, you must file it as an exhibit to PAAB. 
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