I read a couple of the other discussion forums here on the 'tax lightning' issue, but wanted to add a clarifying discussion of my own. As a loan officer for a bank, I am very interested in this topic and how it directly affects my new home owners. I have seen for years how inequitable this issue is both for new buyers and for sellers. It just wasn't a fair way to assess taxes.

So, here's my understanding of where we are. For people that bought their homes in 2008 and did NOT protest the increase in their taxes, they must still file a lawsuit for the refund of the new tax amount. There is a window of opportunity that is now open and they have until January 9, 2010 to file their lawsuit. Even though the taxes will supposedly be lowered in 2010, you will still be able to get a refund back if you sue.

For people that bought homes in 2009, when the taxes are re-assesed in April, they must (unless things are fixed by then) file a protest with the Bernalillo County Tax Assessor and most likely will win. At least that's my understanding.

Here's where the confusion comes in. My understanding is that in 2010 the issue will be solved by the Bernalillo County Tax Assessor Karen Montoya. She stated last Friday that she is rolling back taxes for homes that changed hands since 2002, back to those 2002 levels with the appropriate 3% annual bump. However, there won't be any refunds of taxes for 2008 & 2009 unless you actually file the lawsuit. I feel that people who have been following this issue will be lulled into feeling that they don't have to do anything, and that the issue will be solved automatically. Yes and no. For 2008 & 2009, no. For years going forward, probably yes.

My two cents, for what they are worth.

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I agree. There don't seem to be any specific directions in the bill to insure a level playing field. Is it true and correct value as of a constant base year or when the assessment is performed? If the latter, and over the 5 year period actual values were to increase at more than 3% per year, it would seem that those in the last group get the short end of the stick. If assessments were objective, we could just say all construction is worth $x/sf and land $y/sf. It's the intangibles that make this a hornet's nest. Neighborhood amenities, schools, crime, services, not to mention the variances of "identical" houses all impact percieved value. There is a concept in real property law that says "all land is unique", no two lots are truly identical. Same for houses, If two houses have identical floor plans on identically sized lots, but one has all marble flooring and slate roof tiles and the other contractor grade carpet and asphalt shingles, do they have the same value? Absent having the Assessor's minions troop through each and every house and compile a comprehensive list of features and finishes, the actual selling price is still the most efficient measure of "value". Even for "identical" houses.
Thanks for posting this. I agree with Sen. Boitano that, while not perfect, Sen. Neville's bill is the better of the two. Here's something interesting I found in another blog which addresses your concerns Kevin Murray:

"While that might mean some taxpayers whose property that has been greatly undervalued will see their property taxes increase when the current and correct value is determined, overall taxes in the county should not rise because of a law called yield control. Neville said because of yield control, taxes are not arbitrarily raised when property values increase in a county. If property values go up in a county, tax rates applied to the property go down because of yield control, resulting in tax collections in general remaining the same."

However, I don't agree with this statement by Sen. Boitano:

"...a phase up for those under assessed and phase down for those hit by tax lightning."

If everyone will be raised to current and correct values, and tax lightning victims have already been assessed at current and correct, why would our values come down? I think our taxes would come down because of yield control but not our actual values.

Sen. Eichenberg's bill is great for future home buyers but it actually screws tax lighting victims even more. A home buyer deciding between 2 similar homes, one with a $1200/yr tax liability and another with a $3700/yr tax liability due to tax lightning - which one do you think they'll pick?

And I wonder how all this will play into Karen Montoya's plan to roll back 2010 values? I haven't heard anyone talking about that lately.
Very interesting discussion, but there is still is confusion by some about Notice of Value (Assessment) and Tax Rate.
Here is my letter to the Editor of the Albuquerque Journal which was published about 10 days ago.
1) Whether there is or is not a cap on the increase permitted on your property valuation (Notice of Value), there is no cap on the "Tax Rate". That really is what determines your real estate tax bill and is the subject of the "Tax Bill" mailed in November. I looked at Notice of Value statements for my home (purchased in 1993) from Bernalillo County for the years from 2000 through 2009. The Notice of Value for my home has dutifully increased by 3% for each of those years for a cumulative increase of 28% over the nine years. My taxes, however, have increased by 53% over the same nine years. To repeat, there is no cap on the Tax Rate and therefore the Tax Bill.

2) When the new system of somehow decreasing the tax bills for those who purchased homes in 2002 and later comes into effect, let's face it--the County needs a certain amount of money to function. Barring some miracle to decrease County spending, it will be the same or more than last year. The amount lost on taxes paid by the "newcomers" will have to be compensated by substantially increasing the Tax Rate and therefore the taxes collected from those who bought homes before 2002. So we "old homesteaders" will see tax lightning in reverse.
I read your letter to the editor as well as this post. I don't think any of us confuse the statemetn of value with the mill or tax rate. We don't know what our taxes will be for 2011 yet. I got hit with a 100% increase with no disclosure -- while your taxes were going up 5.9% per year. And it turns out that was not legal. I felt like there was a slight bit of blame in your tax lightning in reverse comments (and some others on this thread) Tax lightning wasn't your fault, nor will it be my fault if the mill rate goes up substanially this year to account for the county's lost income from tax ligthning. Let's blame the idiots who designed this instead of each other. Nobody likes paying taxes, but other states manage to levy taxes without violating constitutional rights. Surely New Mexico can too.
Here, here! And WOW-ZA for Montoya! I can't believe she pulled it off!! My notice of value is now back where it should be. Yes, the tax bill in Nov. will be the final piece of the puzzle but there's no way it will be anywhere close to what it was after my lightning stike (92%). I can see how "old homesteaders" don't like it but don't you want taxes levied legally for everyone? What if you were on the other side of the coin? A few dollers a month increase for everyone will not hurt as much as hundreds of dollars a month for a few. And hooray for a victory for the people! Yea, happy times, soon I'll be able to afford my home again!!!
Don't bet on it, I think she's made a lot more people happy than not. YEA!!!!!! VOTE MONTOYA!!!
I still haven't read an explanation of exactly what Montoua did to lower some assessed values. I'm pretty certain that her statements were clear as to not being able to change the "tax lightening" legislation on a local level. She has apparently removed the 3% cap for residential "income" properties which I believe should still be in effect in the state statutes. I never felt that the 3% cap should have applied to income properties but it definitely was spelled out that way as of earlier this year when I last looked. I would appreciate an explanation if anyone has heard one yet. I believe she has hurt a lot more property owners then she has helped. Once the new tax mill levy rates are applied in November, after the elections, there is likely to be a deluge of furious property owners.


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