This is only a general guide. The Arizona Tax Court cannot provide assistance or legal advice.
Before filing your tax appeal, you may wish to look at other options. The county assessor may agree to an informal review, or you may file a request for a formal hearing, or you can take your case to the State or County Board of Equalization. Consult your county assessor's office for information on these options.
If you do choose to appeal in court, there are three alternatives.
There are certain rules that must be strictly followed or your case will be dismissed. The appeal must be filed by December 15 of the year prior to the tax year - for example, an appeal of the 2011 assessment must be filed by December 15, 2010. (This deadline may be different if you have previously appealed to the assessor or Board of Equalization; the letter you received informing you of the decision will explain the timing of your appeal.) The tax for the tax year being appealed must have been paid on time - if it becomes due while your case is pending, it must be paid promptly - and there can be no delinquent taxes for previous years still unpaid. Unless you filed in the Small Claims Division, you must have the summons and complaint served upon the taxing authority within 10 days of filing; this can be done by the county sheriff's office or by a registered process server.
Once the taxing authority has received your complaint, it will investigate and get in touch with you. Because it receives many tax appeals at around the same time, this can take several weeks or even months, so be patient. If you and the taxing authority cannot reach an agreement, you must inform the judge or commissioner assigned to your case by filing a motion to set the case for trial.
In either the Tax Court or the Small Claims Division, you may represent yourself or have an attorney represent you. (There are a few non-attorneys who have been authorized to represent clients in Small Claims Division; ask to see the person's authorization before hiring him or her.) If your case is in the Tax Court, an attorney would be advisable, as the rules of evidence and civil procedure are strictly followed. In Small Claims Division, the rules are more relaxed, and you may be more comfortable handling your case yourself. Wherever your case is heard, the burden is on you to prove the assessor is wrong. You must present evidence, which can include photographs, a formal appraisal of your property, records of comparable properties nearby, and the like, to meet this burden. The taxing authority may of course present its own evidence, so be prepared to rebut it.May I file just one appeal for multiple parcels of property? Yes. How can I prove the assessed valuation of the property is incorrect? Because the burden of proof rests with you, the plaintiff, you must present factual evidence to disprove the assessor's valuation of your property. To prove the value of the property is too high, you must present expert evidence as to its actual full cash value.
If you present an appraiser's written report of the property's value, the appraiser does not have to attend the trial to testify, if you are proceeding under the small claims tax procedures. A small claims tax trial is informal. Any evidence may be received which will assist the Court to arrive at a just and fair determination of the case. Although the Arizona Rules of Evidence govern the taking of evidence, the judge in a small claims tax case may receive any relevant evidence which the court determines to be reliable, even if the evidence would otherwise be inadmissible by strict application of the Rules of Evidence.How can I prove my property has been classified incorrectly? Arizona Revised Statutes, sections 42-12001 through 42-12009 describe the classes of property uses upon which tax valuation is based. All property in Arizona is classified according to its current use. If you intend to dispute the classification of your property, you need to prove how you use the property. If the assessor has changed the classification and the property has not been sold or transferred, you must prove that your property should be in a different classification. Go to the library and look up Arizona laws on classification, including A.R.S. sections 42-12001 through 42-12009. You will find the Arizona Revised Statutes in most public libraries, college libraries and all law libraries. The Maricopa County Law Library is located on the second floor of the East Court Building, 101 West Jefferson, Phoenix, Arizona 85003-2243.