On Thursday, May 21st, CREW Cleveland gathered via Zoom to learn about strategies for reducing real estate taxes and any affects COVID-19 has had on the process. CREW Cleveland members Cecilia Hyun, Partner, Siegel Jennings Co. LPA and Lori Pittman Haas, Partner & Group Leader Real Estate, Ulmer & Berne LLP presented and led the discussion. They walked the group through the concept of sale of commercial property as the best evidence of value, noting that recent transactions done at arm’s length are generally the strongest evidence of value for taxation purposes. After valuation is determined, a protest of value can be filed, if considered too high, by March 31st. From there, valuation goes through a hearing and potentially an appeal process as well as is open for counter complaints. Often, school districts are involved and press higher values to increase funding – just one potential counter party to be aware of through the process.
Due to COVID-19, there have been many discussions about real estate taxes and potential lessening of burden through these uncertain times. Many of the changes are proposed and tentative, so time will tell the final decision. Proposals to the State thus far include deferral of 2nd half payment and moving hearings from in person to telephonic/video hearings, among others. Naturally, an increase in complaints has occurred due to economic circumstances.
Although there many things still under review, we can expect more information on potential savings for commercial property real estate tax bills in the coming months. Thank you to Cecilia and Lori for a timely and informative presentation through our uncertain times!
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