Assessor - Frequently Asked Questions
Q What do you do with property tax revenue?
A In Minnesota, property taxes provide most of the funding for local government services. Cass County collects the taxes and distributes the money between the county, cities, townships, school districts, and special districts such as Region V Development Commission. Also, the county collects, settles, and distributes the General State Tax back to the State of Minnesota.
Q How is property tax assessed?
A Each property's tax burden is determined according to its value, classification, and the property tax levies. Assessors are responsible for estimating property values and determining classifications for tax purposes.
Q What does the Assessor do?
The Assessor has a number of different tasks:
Accepting applications for property tax programs
The Minnesota Property Tax System involves a variety of programs for which applications are required. The forms and applications that are pertinent to the County Assessor's Office are varied and include homestead benefit applications, applications for value and tax abatements, applications for disaster credit or for damaged property tax relief. The County Assessor also is involved with a variety of deferment programs such as "The Old House Valuation" deferment, applications for disability classification, and applications for property tax exemption status. Please contact the County Assessor's Office if you have any questions regarding these application processing requirements.
The law requires that assessors view each parcel of real estate to appraise its market value. Property values change continuously, with changing market conditions. In addition to market changes, numerous physical changes affect the value of land and buildings. All factors are considered when estimating the value of property. This requires physical inspection of all property subject to assessment.
The Assessor also determines the classification, or use, of each parcel. For instance, property may be residential homestead, residential non-homestead, seasonal recreational residential, agricultural, resort, or commercial. Each classification is taxed at a different percentage of market value. These percentages are set by the Minnesota State Legislature.
Approximately every fifth year, a staff appraiser from the Cass County Assessor's Office will view each property. In addition, all new construction, alterations or improvements will be viewed in the current year.
The Staff Appraiser gathers information on all characteristics of the property that affect market value, such as size and age of the building, quality of construction, and special features such as basement finish, fireplaces, walk-out basements, etc. Characteristics involving the land are also observed, such as number of acres of land including the different types of land as well as determining the amount of front footage on water and the quality of the shoreline involved.
The Cass County Assessor's Office utilizes a computer-assisted mass appraisal system in order to gain a high level of uniformity and equity during the assessment process. Our system uses a modified cost approach, which incorporates recent real estate market activity in order to keep pace with the market.
According to state law, the Assessor's market value is supposed to represent 100% of real value as expressed in the market place. The Minnesota Department of Revenue and the Minnesota Tax Court sit in judgment annually to determine whether the Assessor's Office has done its job according to statute. The performance of the Assessor's Office is measured statistically by the use of sales ratio analysis. By law, assessor's values are supposed to be within 90% and 105% of sale price. If this level of assessment is not achieved, the county is subject to valuation adjustments by the Department of Revenue or The Minnesota Tax Court.
Cass County has consistently been in compliance with this requirement.
Q What is Market Value?
A As referred to previously, the Assessor is responsible for valuing property at its market value. Market value can be defined as the highest price in terms of money which a property will bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeably, and assuming that neither is under undue duress.
Q How does the Assessor determine market value?
A Minnesota state law requires that the value and classification of all real and personal property be established as of January 2nd each year. The Assessor's Office works throughout the year to analyze property transactions and economic conditions in order to estimate market value of each property for the following January 2nd.
Q Who are these Appraisers, and what are their credentials?
A Cass County operates under a County-wide Assessment System. All assessments throughout the entire county are performed from the County Assessor's Office, under the direction of the County Assessor. The staff appraisers employed by the County Assessor are professionals. Stringent training and experience requirements are set by the State Board of Assessors, which governs and administers the licensure of Ad-Valorem property appraisers.
Cass County requires additional training in areas of management, organization, customer service and continuing appraisal education.