Property Valuations

Taxation

Taxing authorities such as the State Legislature, School Board, County Commission and City Councils set rates in March of each year. Levy rates differ according to the class of property. In West Virginia, there are four classes of property:

Class I:
all property formerly classified as Class I is exempt.
Class II:
all property owned, used, and occupied by the owner exclusively for residential purposes and farms occupied and cultivated by their owners or tenants.
Class III:
all other real or personal property situated outside of municipalities (vacant land and buildings, rental property, vehicles, commercial real estate, equipment, inventory).
Class IV:
all other real or personal property situated within municipialities (vacant land and buildings, rental property, vehicles, commercial real estate, equipment, inventory).

A listing of the 2014 levy rates in Marshall County for each class of property for each district and municipality is contained in the FORMS pages.

In December, 2012 the Board of Education held an Excess Levy election requesting $16.7 Million annually to assist in the operation of the Marshall County School system for 5 years through June 30, 2018. The voters passed the Excess Levy which is currently in effect. Due to increased overall assessed valuations in the County caused by the economic growth associated with the Marcellus Gas Industry, the Board of Education is actually receiving over $22 Million annually from the Excess Levy for the past two years.

If you are in favor of reductions in the Levy Rates established by The Board of Education and/or County Commission, you are encouraged to contact their members to express your concerns.

You should also note the levy rates associated with the School Bond Levy, which was passed by Marshall County voters in November, 2006. With the addition of the new levy beginning with the 2007 tax bill, both personal property taxes and real estate taxes have increased for every property owner in Marshall County. The amount of the increase depends on the assessed value of the property that you own. You can visit the ASSESSMENT RECORDS ONLINE page to obtain your 2014 real estate taxes.

Valuation

The Assessor's Office studies the Real Estate market and collects information about properties to estimate value. The goal of the Assessor's Office is to estimate each property's fair, current market value - the price your property could sell for today on the open market. To estimate current market value, the Assessor's Office considers the characteristics of the property, the neighborhood, recent sales of similar property and local building and construction costs.

Property Value Changes

A property's value can change for many reasons, the most obvious is the property changes - an addition, a new garage, or the property undergoes renovation or demolition. Another frequent cause of change is a change in the market - properties in certain neighborhoods begin selling for higher prices.

The Assessor's Office must, however, maintain property values that are at least 90% of recent sales prices. A quick method to determine if your value is fair is to compare it to sales prices in your neighborhood, taking into account various differences in structures. A comprehensive annual sales and contruction analysis occurs annually which has typically resulted in a 2-3% assessed value increase in Class II owner-occupied homes. Larger increases have occurred recently, however, due to the economic growth associated with the Marcellus Gas Industry and increases in sales prices for homes in certain areas through the County.

In 1990, the West Virginia Legislature ordered a statewide reappraisal of all property in West Virginia. Reappraisal occurs annually. At least once during a 3 year period, however, the Assessor's Office must visit every piece of real estate to confirm and update characteristics of the property. If a property's assessed value increases by more than 10%, the owner is notified by mail in January.

If at anytime, however, you believe there is an error in the value of your property, you should contact the Assessor's Office. An official from the office will visit the property to determine if a reduction is warranted.

Individual Assessment records, including assessed values, property characteristics, and tax maps along with aerial photography can now be viewed as part of this website by visiting Assessment Records Online.

Exemptions

If you are 65 years of age or older, or if you are permanently and totally disabled, you may be eligible for the Homestead Property Tax Exemption. If approved, $20,000 will be deducted from the assessed value of the home used as your primary residence. To claim this exemption, you must file the application with the Assessor's Office between July 1 and December 1. The Homestead Exemption saves senior citizens in Marshall County over $1,000,000 in property taxes annually.

A Senior Citizens Tax Credit is also available for eligible senior citizens. It is based on the amount of property taxes paid on the first $20,000 of the taxable assessed value over the $20,000 Homestead Exemption. If for example, the assessed value of your home is $35,000, the Homestead Exemption automatically exempts $20,000 from the payment of property taxes, which is shown on your annual property tax bill.

The additional $15,000 is then eligible for the Senior Citizens Tax Credit. You must first pay the property tax due, but after filing the proper forms with the State Tax Department, the amount paid is credited to any State Income Tax owed. If no state income tax is owed, the homeowner will receive a refund check from the State Tax Department.

There are low income guidelines associated with the Senior Citizen Tax Credit, although Social Security benefits are not included in the income limits. To claim the credit, a one-person household must have income less than $17,235. A two-person household must have income less than $23,265.

Personal Property Assessments

Personal property assessments differ somewhat from real estate assessments. All persons must report to the Assessor all personal property owned as of July 1 of each year whether visited by a deputy or not. This can be done in one of four ways:

  1. Necessary forms and a return envelope are mailed to every property owner in the County prior to July 1 of each year. Simply complete and return the form to the Assessor's Office prior to October 1.
  2. While visiting the courthouse, report the information to the Assessor's Office personnel.
  3. Taking the form to any high mileage checkpoint held weekly each summer.
  4. You are now able to complete the Individual Personal Property Report form online. Simply visit the Assessor's Form page, click the Personal Property Report icon, complete the applicable sections, and then click "Submit".

Vehicle assessments are based on 60% of the lowest value listed in the N.A.D.A. Used Car Guide. Assessment discounts for vehicles with high mileage are available. High Mileage Certifications must be turned in each year prior to October 1. By being assessed for your vehicles each year, you will avoid any late penalties and interest, be eligible for 2 1/2% discount, and reduce the time it takes to renew your vehicle registration each year. The 2014 High Mileage Schedule is contained in the Assessor's Forms link.

Business Personal Property

All business in the county are mailed a blue, four-page reporting form in early July. The form requests that accurate costs be entered for all personal property owned as of July 1 of each year, including machinery and equipment, inventory, computer equipment, vehicles and furniture and fixtures. All business returns must be submitted no later than September 1st. Those businesses not submitting a return are automatically subject to a 10% increase on the previous year's assessment, are liable for a $100 penalty, and lose any right to appeal the value established.

Out-Of-State Plates Program

The Marshall County Assessor's Office has a program to identify and register those vehicles with out-of-state plates that are owned by residents of Marshall County. West Virginia Code § 17A-3-1a requires every owner of a motor vehicle who is a resident of the state to obtain registration and title to the vehicle(s) from the Department of Motor Vehicles within 30 days of establishing their residency.

We are also assessing annually the RV's owned by the out-of-state workers who are living in Marshall County for an extended period of time while working in the Marcellus Gas Industry. While some of these workers are here for only 2-3 weeks at a time and should not be assessed, many are here or have been living here for 3-12 months. It is the policy of the Assessor's Office to assess these seasonal workers for their personal property located in the County for an extended period of time.

It is simply a question of fairness. It is not right that while most vehicle owners in Marshall County pay their personal property taxes annually, others evade their taxes by getting out-of-state plates. This increases the burden on the honest taxpayers and costs the County and School Board rightfully-owed revenue that could be used to address other pressing problems.

If you are aware of any vehicles that are in violation, please report the information to the Out-of-State Plates Investigators, by calling the Assessor's Office at 845-1490. You may remain anonymous and will not be involved in any manner once our investigation begins. Please remember, however, that investigations can take up to 3-6 months to complete in order to assemble evidence to present in court, especially if the alleged violator disputes his West Virginia residency.

The Assessor's Office also has no legal authority to issue any type of arrest warrants to owners of vehicles with out-of-state plates, and we cannot have any vehicles towed or impounded. We do place the vehicle(s) on the active property tax rolls so the owner will receive a tax bill for the vehicle(s) in question.

Appealing Your Property Rights

An assessment appeal is not a complaint about higher taxes. It is an attempt to prove that your property's estimated current market value is not accurate. You can ask for a review of your assessment by the Assessor's Office at any time during the year if you believe either of two things:

  • Items that affect the value on your property record card are incorrect - you have one bath not two; you have a carport, not a garage.
  • The estimated market value is too high and you have evidence that similar properties have sold for less than the estimated market value of your property. Evidence should include a recent certified appraisal or bank refinancing documents.

If you are not satisfied with the Assessor's Office review, you then have the opportunity to appear before the Board of Review and Equalization during the month of February each year. The Board is only concerned whether the value placed on your property is fair and accurate, not whether or not your taxes are too high. After the Board adjourns at the end of February, no changes in assessments can be made until the following year.

Your Tax Bill

The Sheriff's Tax Office is responsible for the layout, printing, and mailing of the tax bills. Questions regarding any of those processes should be directed to the Sheriff of Marshall County. You should also pay your bill at the Sheriff's Tax Office. If you do not receive a bill and believe that you should have, questions regarding amounts due, delinquencies, or payment due dates should also be directed to the Sheriff's Office.

Annual Assessment & Application Deadlines

July 1
All property assessed annually, according to its value as of July 1.

July 1 - October 1
Filing period for high mileage discount certification.

July 1 - September 1
Farm use discount application period.
Filing period for business personal property returns.

July 1 - December 1
Homestead property tax exemption application period.

July 1 - January 31
Period that Assessor's Office will accept individual personal property returns.

January 31
Last day for the Assessor to revise real estate & personal property assessments.

February 1 - 28
Board of Review and Equalization meets to hear assessment appeals.

August 1
Annual tax statements mailed.

Dog Licenses

The Assessor's Office has the responsibility to also collect the fees and issue dog licenses annually. Dog owners must currently have a valid license for each dog owned for the period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. The cost for each license depends upon the district in which you live. A schedule of fees is listed in the 2015 Personal Property Instructions under the Assessor's Forms link. It is against the law to own an unlicensed dog(s) and violators should be reported to the Assessor, dog Warden, Sheriff, or other law enforcement. Citations and fines can be issued by the Dog Warden to those found in violation of the dog licensing laws.

Gas Industry Assessment Procedures & Potential

During the past 7 years, Marshall County has seen a substantial growth in lease and sale transactions related to the Marcellus Shale formation. The potential for creating wealth for the owners of those mineral rights as well as for the gas companies leasing, drilling, and producing natural gas in Marshall County is unlimited. The following is a short explanation of the assessment process for the gas industry in Marshall County. To get a better understanding of the leasing process, view the Explanation of Oil and Gas Leases in West Virginia form under the Assessor's Forms link.

In the gas industry, it is a general practice for a producer to lease the right to drill on a property and, if gas is found, to participate in the revenues from such production. Generally, in past years it was customary for the property owner to receive 1/8 or 12.5% of the revenues from production (royalty interest) and the producer to receive 7/8 or 87.5% of the revenues from production (working interest). These percentages can and do fluctuate, however, according to individual lease terms agreed to by both parties. Both the royalty interest and the working interest created through the lease are subject to property taxation in the State of West Virginia. When production begins, the royalty interest is listed and assessed on the real property books and the working interest is listed and assessed on the personal property books. Therefore, 100% of the receipts from production are assessed annually.

When a lease is signed by the owner of the mineral rights, the assessed value of that lease is in most cases placed on the real property books at a minimum value of $120, which results in a tax bill of a few dollars. The minimum value is placed on these mineral accounts because the recorded lease documents do not list the per acre rental amount. The Assessorís Office has no way of knowing if the owner leased his acreage for $5/acre, $200/acre, or $2,000/acre. Therefore, until a well is actually drilled, gas is produced, and income is generated to both the property owner (royalty interest) and the gas producer (working interest), the $120 minimum assessment is carried on the property books.

Once gas is being produced, the assessed value for both the working interest and royalty interest will increase, sometimes substantially, because the assessment is then based upon the amount of income generated to the producer, and the amount of royalties paid to the property owner. This income information is supplied to the West Virginia State Tax Department by operator of the well. The State Tax Department, not the Assessor's Office, uses this income information to determine the assessed value.

The appraisal formula for producing wells is somewhat complicated because it includes estimating annual production for 1st year wells, utilizing actual royalties for 2nd year wells, and calculating a 3 year average for older wells. The appraisal model then capitalizes that value to predict a future income stream and then discounts that future income to a present worth value. In our area the appraised value of the royalty interest usually equals 2-5 times the amount of one yearís income. The assessed value would be 60% of that amount.

The Assessorís Office now has over 8,000 mineral accounts because of the leases being signed. The County and Board of Education have begun to receive additional property tax revenue resulting from these leases because wells have been drilled, gas produced and income generated to both the producer and royalty owner.The Board of Education has received over $11 Million in increased property tax revenue over the past two years because of growth in the gas industry. The amount of revenue will also depend on the price of gas. It was selling for $14.50 per MCF several years ago, and is now fluctuating between $2.00 and $4.50 per MCF today.

Marshall County has seen over $3 billion of investment in new gas drilling, processing facilities, and pipeline networks. Additional such facilities are planned for the future according to published reports.

ASSESSOR'S OFFICE STAFF AND EXPERIENCE

Employee Years of Service Job Description
Christopher J. Kessler 22 Assessor
Jim Buzzard 32 Real Estate Appraiser
Betty Carney 56 Office Manager
Larry Jefferson 27 Real Estate Office Deputy
Sherri Kessler 14 Administrative Assistant
Jodi Patterson 6.5 Personal Property Deputy
Brenda Koontz 23 Assessed Minerals Deputy
Don Krupica 22 Real Estate Field Deputy
Don Schafer 22 Chief Deputy
Mark Schuman 22 Real Estate Field Deputy
Kathy Stalnaker 24 GIS Coordinator
Joe Twigg 21 Real Estate Field Deputy
Karen Zumbrunnen 23 Personal Property Deputy
Terry McDiffitt 2.5 Property Transfers Deputy
Lindsay Jura 2 Data Entry Deputy
Raymond Larue 2 Out-of-State Plates Deputy
Amanda Lockhart 2 Out-of-State Plates Deputy
Jake Padlow 1 Mineral Field Deputy
Eric Buzzard 6 mos. Commercial Real Estate Field Deputy
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