The D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) and The Washington Informer led a virtual community conversation to inform D.C. homeowners about property tax assessments and assistance ahead of the tax payment due date on March 31.
In mid-February, the agency mailed nearly 250,000 real property tax assessments for 2022 to District residents, followed by real property tax bills sent in early March.
The virtual forum that lasted more than an hour included participants’ questions focusing on issues related to their property tax bills, including the process for calculating tax assessments, conditions that impact property values, and how OTR will handle hardship cases.
Real property assessments reflect the estimated market value of a property. It is the most probable price for a property to be sold given normal terms and conditions. The most significant concern among the participants was the increased property assessments most District residents are witnessing across all eight wards.
“Property assessments are projected to increase the least in Ward 2 and significantly in Wards 8 and 3, by 19 and 10.26 percent, respectively,” said Yomi Omotoso, D.C. Office of Tax Revenue and Assessment chief appraiser. The rates for each of the eight wards, in chronological order, will increase by the following percentages: 5.33, 3.19, 5.03, 9.27, 7.47, 6.61, 8.93, and 10.26.
“We want to support our D.C. homeowners in knowing how their property taxes are assessed and resources available to them,” said Eva Liggins, director of operations.
Earlier this month, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue led a 90-minute session including a question and answer portion during the “Community Conversation on Real Property Taxes and Assessments: What You Need to Know.” About 70 homeowners joined a virtual presentation about property tax assessments, billing, the appeal process, and tax relief programs.
In his welcoming remarks, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White shared his concern about increasing tax rates.
“One time, I got a tax assessment, and within two years, the taxes on one of my properties went up about 11 percent, and it was about $300.00 [more]. I started thinking, ‘How many residents have an extra $300 to pay for taxes?’” he said.
In 2023, proposed assessments of residential properties are expected to change by ward.
Wanda Lockridge, chief of staff to Ward 8 Councilmember White and a homeowner, asked, “Is [the increase] due to new development or the redistricting efforts?”
Another homeowner, Brenda Jones, asked, “Does an uptick in crime in the area of your property or having a crime problem for a period of time affect the value of your property?”
“Crime is not a determining factor,” OTR said.
An OTR official said the inflation in property taxes is due to increased property values. Because housing in the District is in high demand resulting in higher property value, higher sale prices and, ultimately, higher property taxes.
Each year on January 1, OTR assessors determine the property value based on the housing market, sales of similar properties in the area, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the quality of construction, which collectively determine the tax rate.
Omotoso shared an example of how property taxes increase.
“For example, a 5 percent change in assessment value of a $400,000 property is $20,000. While a similar assessment change in a $1,500,000 property is $75,000. These assessment increases result in additions to a tax of $170 and $637.50, respectively,” he said.
Image courtesy of: DC Office of Tax Revenue and Assessment
Each year, the agency publishes an Appraisal Reference Material handbook online, which outlines the appraisal process.
Some homeowners are eligible for the Assessment Cap Credit, limiting the amount a homeowner’s property can be taxed.
“The Office of Tax Revenue implements a tax cap that limits the assessment increases to no more than 10 percent a year for a property owner receiving the Homestead deduction and 5% a year for a property owner receiving the Senior Citizen Tax Relief,” OTR said.
The tax cap will appear as an automatic credit against the property tax amount shown on the mailed bill.
“Is it too late to realize the Cap credit?” Lisa Trice, a homeowner, asked during the event.
“The Cap is automatic, so no action is required by the taxpayer,” OTR responded.
Homeowners can reach out to the agency if they believe they’re eligible to receive the Assessment Cap Credit, but credit will not be applied to their bill.
Homeowners can appeal a property tax assessment, as well, for reasons including valuation, tax classification, property condition, or errors in property records. The First Level of Appeal Form must be submitted online or mailed and postmarked by April 1.
Property owners can also request a payment plan for delinquent property taxes by completing a form on the site. The agency also has programs for senior, low-income, and disabled homeowners to defer overdue and upcoming property tax bills. Applications must be filed by March 31 or September 15, the next upcoming deadline to pay the biannual assessments.
As the event concluded, Ward 8 homeowner Linda Lynch said, “Thank you for your continuing work to help us keep our homes.”
Her sentiments speak to the mission of Our House D.C., an information hub for Black D.C. residents where they can read about homeownership challenges and solutions to protect and preserve their homes.
The D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue will partner with the Washington Informer to host future events to support District homeowners.
OTR staff, including Natalie Wilson, public affairs specialist; Eva Liggins, director of operations; Yomi Omotoso, chief appraiser; and Steven Skowron, manager of the homestead unit, were coordinators and featured speakers of the Community Conversation with OTR.