Deadline for appealing property tax assessments Monday

Property tax assessments went out in mid-December.
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If you live in Marion County, chances are your property values increased.

The new assessments have been out since mid-December, but you have just a few days left to appeal. The deadline is Monday, January 28.

Marvin West went to the Marion County Assessors in Washington Township Thursday to challenge his new assessment.

West said, "It went up at least 10 percent and I don't think that's where it should be."

West is among the roughly 62 percent of Marion County homeowners who saw their property values jump this year following a countywide reassessment. And when assessments go up, so do property taxes.

"I don't mind paying taxes," he said, "but I want it to be a fair tax."

He's far from alone. With the deadline to appeal fast approaching, homeowners were going to the assessors office or mailing in their forms, with scores arriving each day.

But just because you make the deadline, doesn't mean you'll see a quick resolution.

The assessors office is still working through appeals going back to 2007. That's when many homeowners saw their taxes skyrocket, due to several statewide changes in assessments and taxes.

As of today, the backlog is just over 18,000 appeals, which doesn't include the nearly 3,000 which have come in since December.

So, how long before homeowners like West get an answer?

"I have no clue but I hope before I pay my property taxes," he said.

But that's very unlikely. The average number of days to finish an appeal in 2011 was 236 days - but that's far better than the 819 days it took in 2007 or the 675 it took days in 2008.

And until your appeal is heard, you do have to pay taxes on the new assessment or face penalties. (But if you win, you get the difference back, plus interest.)

Stuart Sayger says he's been waiting two-and-a-half years for a resolution on his appeal and he's getting antsy.

"I think if there's an opportunity to appeal, you'd like to think your appeal is heard," he said.

Assessor Joe O'Connor said what really set them back were all those appeals between 2006 and 2008.

He said they just haven't had the staff to keep up, but he said they have made progress finishing 6,570 appeals in 2012 with a goal of doing between 14,000 and 18,000 appeals in 2013.

He also noted that, "we will never have zero appeals in Marion County," but they can he said, "get out of the hole."