Board of Equalization

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Duties and Responsibilities

The Board of Equalization is a three member citizen panel, recommended by the local governing body and appointed by the Circuit Court. By law, board of equalization members must be property owners in the locality in which they serve. The General Assembly, in the 1979 session, amended Section 58.1-3374, Code of Virginia, to require that members and prospective members of local boards of equalization attend and participate in a basic course of instruction offered by the Department of Taxation in order to be eligible for appointment to the Board.

The Board's primary and foremost concern is the equalization of real estate assessments to ensure that the real estate tax is borne equally by all. The Board of Equalization is a quasi-judicial body with specific legal powers that run deep, but are very limited in scope. That is to say that it has considerable powers in the matter of equalizing the burden of real estate taxation but has no other legal authority.

Chapter Nineteen of Title 58.1 of the Code of Virginia delineates the powers and responsibilities of local boards of equalization as follows:

A Local Board of Equalization Must:
  • Hear all complaints concerning and receive all objections to the real estate assessment of any taxpayer from the taxpayer or his agent;
  • hear all complaints concerning and receive objections to the real estate assessment of any taxpayer from the city or county attorney or the appointed representative of the city or county;
  • make public advertisement of its meetings;
  • keep minutes of its meetings and notify the property owner and assessor of any assessment change; and
  • correct any known duplications or omissions in the assessment roll.
A Board of Equalization May:
  • Summon before it any taxpayer or any other person to furnish information relating to the real estate of any and all taxpayers; to answer, under oath, all questions touching the ownership and value of such real estate and to furnish books of account or other documents containing such information;
  • require the real estate assessor of the locality to attend its meetings (without additional compensation) and to inform the board of such inequalities in assessments as may be known to him.
  • enter and inspect any real estate subject to equalization by the board; and
  • increase or decrease any assessment so that the ends of justice will be served in that the burden of taxation will rest equally upon all citizens of the locality.
The Board of Equalization Cannot:
  • Void a general reassessment or annual assessment
  • order a reassessment
  • make overall (blanket )increases or decreases in assessments for the locality
  • increase any assessment without first notifying the property owner and giving him an opportunity to show cause against such increase, unless such property owner has already been heard;
  • make assessment changes that are either retroactive for past years or prospective for future years; or
  • alter assessments on any real estate assessable by the State Corporation Commission or the Department of Taxation.
Board of Equalization Appeals Form

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