Potential error in property tax assessment in Jackson Co. leads to new bill

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – Alvin Woody has owned property off of Beall Lane in Central Point since 2005.

But in 2019, he noticed something was off with his property taxes.

“Looking into the finances of the building I noticed compared to other commercial properties our taxes were very high, so I started wondering why,” Woody said.

From 2006 to 2019, Woody believed an error was made in his property taxes resulting in him paying thousands of dollars over what he should be paying.

When he took the issue to Jackson County assessor Dave Arrasmith in 2019, he told Woody in an email an error had indeed been made.

Arrasmith said a notation was made for an increase in property tax in 2006, regarding the property’s use changing from industrial to commercial and a remodel had been done.

However, Woody said neither of those things happened.

Arrasmith said in a 2019 email he could only fix the last five years from 2014 to 2019.

However, when Woody filed to get those years corrected, he was denied.

“He would not correct those and so the only thing I could do is go to the magistrate court to file an appeal,” Woody said.

The Oregon Tax Court said Oregon law states an assessor may make a correction, but it wasn’t required.

Arrasmith said although he did admit to saying in 2019 an error was made, court documents show the county argued the error could not be corrected due to “Appraiser’s judgment.”

Now, Arrasmith tells us he no longer maintains that an error was made.

Woody said he should be owed thousands of dollars.

“The five years that have not yet been corrected, the taxes were just under $21k that should have corrected and refunded, if refunded now I believe with the accrued interested it would be about $37k,” Wood said.

Last year, Woody decided tell his story to Ashland state representative Pam Marsh.

That prompted her to introduce house bill 2086 during the 2023 legislative session.

The bill goes into effect this Sunday, September 24.

It aims to allow correction of maximum assessed value of property for the current tax year and up to five years before the current year.

“We can fix things in law and I think it’s important for people to understand that it’s possible,” Marsh said. “He had explored every single way to fix it without a statutory change and then I said, okay Alvin, I don’t know if we can come up with a solution that makes you whole, but we’re going to fix the law.”

The biggest change came from changing the wording that from “the officer may correct any other error or omission of any kind,” too shall, in effect, forcing property tax collectors to make necessary changes.

That wording would have helped Woody significantly.

However, the bill does not help him for 2014 to 2019 tax years.

Recently, a stipulation from tax court ordered a correction for woody’s property taxes for 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021 tax years.

Meaning, he’s no longer paying more than he should in property tax.

As for what’s next, he’s going to keep fighting for the refund he believes he deserves.

“The only thing I think I have left to do is to try to urge the county commissioners to do the right thing,” Woody said.

In an email to us, Arrasmith said prior to and after House Bill 2086, an appraiser’s opinion of value may show poor judgment, but an error has to be documented for a correction to happen.

Arrasmith said there is no factual evidence that a math error occurred in Woody’s case.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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