Skyrocketing Taxes Explained By Assessor

The GUARDIAN has contacted Ada County Assessor Bob McQuade who offered us an example of what amounts to a “mathematical phenomenon” which leads to disproportionate increase in tax bills.

Here is his explanation for the prime reason for some of the surprise tax hikes.

“By statute the current Homestead Exemption is 50% of the value or $100,000, whichever is less.

Based on the current Homestead Exemption we find that:
For parcels valued less than $200,000 the exemption is 50% of an increasing market value.
For parcels over $200,000 the exemption becomes a DECREASING percentage of an INCREASING market value.

For example:
When a home is valued at $200,000, we find $100,000 (1/2 the value) is exempt, and $100,000 (1/2 the value) is taxable.

When that same home increases to a value of $300,000, only $100,000 (or 1/3 the value) is exempt, and $200,000 (or 2/3) is now taxable.”

This is akin to the age comparison among siblings. When a girl is 10 and her brother is 5, she is twice as old. Twenty years later she is 30 and the brother is just 5 years younger at 25. Bro didn’t really catch up, but sis went from being 100% older to just 20% older.

Assorted facts:
–Property is valued as of January 1. There is currently about a 1% increase in value per month, but the ASSESSED value is locked in at the Jan. 1 value.

–Homestead exemption applies to both the improvements and the land. Prior to 2006, it was broken down with the exemption applying only to the house. That led to manipulation, switching values from one or the other in some instances.

–Ada claims about a 95% accuracy in establishing true market values.

–Median value for a home in Ada County is $295,000. That means half are worth more and half are worth less. That figure is NOT the average price.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. So give the surprise surplus back to us
    Nov 26, 2019, 6:35 pm

    This kind of stuff reminds me of an employer who made frequent “random” mistakes on paychecks but never to the benefit of the employees. The accounting rules were so complicated that he just never did get it right. Gosh sorry. Will they give the surprise surplus back to us? Oh hell no! They’ll just build themselves a new building, buy new cars, increase pay, and so on until any extra is gone.

    Listen to the propaganda from nearly every public office, school, and public utility. They bombard us with the constant message of “it could be so much worse, it could be like some other places”. The goal is to use this constant comparison to raise our taxes, fees, utilities to match or exceed high tax cities.

    Does anyone have wage comparisons and wage increase data?

  2. … and it must be assumed that when they tell you the tax can only increase a maximum of 3% over the previous year, that doesn’t include the increase in the “valuation” of the property. (Golly! I would be SO HAPPY if my taxes “only” went up 3%!)

    A couple other observations:

    – You would be hard-pressed to find a house anywhere in Ada County that would sell for less than $200k. (Maybe a converted double-wide out in the sticks someplace.)

    – The “value” of your property is only meaningful when you buy it, or get taxed, or sell it. There is no tangible benefit to your house’s appreciation until the day you sell it. So taxing the “value” seems inherently unfair. It would be like taxing the value of your 401(k) every year, but prohibiting you from using the funds.

    I sure hope the Legislature provides some sort of relief, since City Hall is obviously indifferent.

    EDITOR NOTE–Point of order. The 3% limit refers only to the budget increase allowed in local governments, not assessed values or taxes.

  3. Hizzoner has the wage data
    Nov 26, 2019, 10:01 pm

    The gentleman increased his own salary to Market and Regionally competitive at least once, maybe twice in his reign. Twenty percentish.

    He did not however, extend the courtesy to the laborers in his employ. I think he incentivized his department heads to peel skin from the workers by way of low wages, ranking employees (for which Micron has been sued), over-budgeting and pull backs, delays in employee replacement, and the departments director is paid on budget manipulation, not performance. You’ve got to make to total number look good and you can have everything you can slide and hide.


  4. chicago sam
    Nov 27, 2019, 8:25 am

    Taxes are higher because budgets are higher. If you raise the homeowner exemption which many people favor the money saved would have to be made up either by shifting property taxes to commercial or rising sales taxes or some similar method. Key is the budgets–distribution is always argued

  5. Mark Thompson
    Nov 27, 2019, 12:09 pm

    It seems like a reasonable fix would be to increase the amount of the exemption by 3% annually as well. I agree that inflation brings costs up which means that more taxes are needed, but if houses are getting more expensive, the exemption amount should go up to keep pace.

  6. Budget Manipulation?
    Nov 27, 2019, 12:42 pm

    I recently came across the following paragraph in a Dec. 28, 2018 Boise Public Works Department Memo.

    “Implementing the Budget: Once the budget is adopted, departments have discretion as to how the budgets are expended. One thing that cannot be done is to pass appropriation from one fund to another. Beyond this restriction, however, department O&M and Equipment budgets are controlled at a “bottom line” level. In other words, budget control is not applied at a line item level. CIPs are controlled at the project level. “

    Would this really mean that a department could submit a budget, then literally not stick to it, as “discretion” on how it is spent is allowed? I know that the city uses the Interim Budget Change (IBC) process quite frequently to move the money around. Anyone can see the IBC requests, as they show up on the City Council Work Session Agenda at least once per month. The shuffling of Park Impact Fees is a frequent request via this process.

    Another factor that has impacted residential taxes over the past few years, is that commercial property tax has been declining while residential tax has been increasing. Can anyone offer a fact based explanation as to why this has occured? Is this connected in any way to the change that was made to the homeowner exemption?

  7. ***Less than 10 states (Idaho is one of em) do not require sales price disclosure for real estate.***

    Idaho law says “all nonexempt property be assessed AT market value as of January 1st.”
    —Not “95%” of what they estimate the market rate is.

    Those details aside, the 95% quote from the Assessor is a not so accurate. And his ‘explanation’ above is pretty much irrelevant for 95% of the property owners in Ada County.

    Show me ONE assessment that was truly way too much in the past 5 years. Too much means – offered for the assessed value or less and not sold in a fair market. Show me a realtor that says, “let’s list it for your assessed value. That will be perfect!”

    Just based on the laws of average, to get a ‘95%’ target statistically with so many below 95%, there MUST be MANY that are way over 95%. And that is not the case.
    Sure, many come in at 95% or 100%, but a whole lot come in way less than the market. Required disclosure would close the gap.

    An example I picked randomly off a list:
    New MLS listing- 4393 W Briar Rock, in Eagle.
    Listed for $770,000 (4/3 3,846 sqft)
    assessor says $606,600 for Jan 1 2019
    IF 95% holds true, then the Jan 1 2020 assessment will be about 738,800.
    does anyone think the assessment will jump from 606 to 738?

    IF in 2019, it increases 12% the new assessment would be 680,000 about 88% of the current listed price. And almost $100,000 LESS than the expected price.
    Will it sell for list price? It’s a seller’s market. What we will soon know, is the 2020 assessment.

    On the EAST end of the town is a 2.2million newly listed house, assessed for 1.3 million on Jan 1.
    A million dollars of improvements in the last 10 months? Maybe. That must be a heck of new kitchen! Or is the realtor jus riding coke dreaming of that commission?

    That same house paid
    $16,018 in taxes for 2018 and
    $16,319 for year 2019.
    A $300 increase = OUCH!

    And from 2015 to 2016, and from 2012 to 2013, their tax bill actually decreased.
    Serious. I’m not kidding!
    Can you imagine owning a million dollar house in Boise and the tax bill actually drops? (laughing as I type) Meanwhile, the Idaho Legislature and Congress reduces your income taxes at the same time! Trifecta!!!
    THAT is Making America GREAT?
    “Happy Thanksgiving, Honey.” :-/

    A margin of error has a greater impact when applied to a greater mass.
    In this case, “that error” benefits the wealthy owner more than the middle-income owner.

    MLS says the median value increased 6% over the past year for new builds and 13% for existing.
    What will your assessor say this January?

    Today, a mailer from a realtor states the MEDIAN sale price for Ada County was $328,250 for existing homes and $401,702 for new build (month of the October). Weird that the median assessment is less than the median sold, right?

  8. Dave Kangas
    Nov 27, 2019, 2:34 pm

    Very hot real estate market. Urban renewal diverting a lot of tax revenue, St Lukes taking over the old MK Plaza. The state buying the HP property. Boise home owners are getting screwed in many ways by the same entities(?) that are supposed to be a boon to the local economy.

  9. Chicago Sam: you are right. Increasing the homeowners exemption would shift tax burden to commercial property. That is what should happen. In the last 10 years that burden has shifted to homeowners. It used to be 60%/40% commercial/homeowner. Now it has flipped the other way.

    However, budgets are the answer. Few citizens attend Boise City budget hearings. They should. It is an education.

    In the 2018 hearing, staff pointed out that in the previous five years the city had realized revenue surpluses while increasing budgets the maximum allowable by law. To avoid this embarrassing scenario, the council agreed to alter their budget (over budget) to avoid the appearance of surpluses. These surpluses should result in reduced budgets the following year.

  10. Stalin said….”it’s not who gets to vote that matters, it’s who counts the votes.”

    So, it’s not who OWNS the property that matters, it’s who gets to ASSESS the property.

    BUT….at the end of the day, you don’t OWN your property. If you decide not to pay the protection money to the mafia don, you get visited after the 6th year of not paying and you get evicted…at GUNPOINT…cuz this is a “free” nation and all that. Doesn’t matter that you disagree with education policy, road policy, police policy, tax policy, legal system or anything. Doesn’t matter if your own personal impact on others is minimal….you EXIST as a property owner and that’s all that matters.

    It’s a form of Marxist claim on your life. Someone out there determines that you must contribute to the special plan that labels YOU as the problem in current school doctrine, and YOU get to pay for it. I know this cuz I used to be THAT person that was calculating how deplorable you are. When I finally learned that I ALSO was on the list, I had a big RETHINK of exactly what it was that I was carrying water for. Big mug o coffee that was, for sure.

    This happens because it’s boiled frog. Incremental steps to controlling your life. Apathy is the biggest enemy in a world where we sign over our rights to city governments and politicians.

  11. 3 year timeframe
    Dec 1, 2019, 6:56 pm

    Forced Air: In Ada County, the tax man comes calling at year 3 of unpaid taxes. If not paid up in full, house/land goes into foreclosure. At least that is what I have seen happen in my neighborhood.

  12. Not Skyrocketing For Tank Farm
    Dec 3, 2019, 8:01 pm

    The majority of the parcels that comprise the tank farm on the bench, 4 of them, come up with one address: 201 N. Phillippi – owned by Tesoro Logistics, San Antonio. Of these 4 parcels, only one has paid taxes and it has received nearly a 73% reduction in taxes from its highest tax amount in 2012:

    $97,160 – 2012
    $21,669 – 2013
    $26,296 – 2019

    The other parcel is: 321 Curtis – owned by Sinclair. It has received nearly a 9.5% reduction in taxes from its highest tax amount in 2017:

    $47,356 – 2017
    $42,892 – 2019

    I have forwarded this info. to a local newspaper reporter to follow up on and seek an explanation for the residential taxpayers as to how the taxes are “worked” for these parcels.

  13. 3 year:

    Last I heard it was 6. Not surprised if it’s 3 now. That revenue is counted on by agenda hungry policy makers, as we know. Especially if you live in Commiefornia. They couldn’t wait 6 loooooong years to kick you out of your property to sell your house to the highest bidder and recollect taxes. They’ve got big plans there……electric only cars by 2040, poop pickup patrols, driving people out of WUIs (Wildland Ubran Interface) and into cities and towns (or just out of the state), elimination of single family homes, rounding up of homeless that don’t comply with trying to find a job that can’t create any more jobs because businesses can’t operate in a Marxist environment, wasting away billions of dollars on commuter rails to nowhere, water policy that mismanages water to expand drought more than alleviate it, ever more permissiveness of street crime, ever more coddling of criminal Big Tech, ever more coddling of sicko Hollywood political correctness, ever more bureaucracy growth, ever more failing road infrastructure and on and on.

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