Published 15 April 2019
If you own even one of the 110,258 pieces of taxable property located in Doña Ana County, you should have already received your 2019 Notice of Value from the county assessor’s office. The notices serve to inform property owners of the total assessed and taxable values of their properties, as well as which exemptions, if any, have been applied to the individual parcels. The final tally will be used to calculate the 2019 tax bills that will be sent to property owners in November.
Included in the total are 50,700 parcels with at least one single-family home, 4,387 commercial properties, 1,929 properties with townhomes, 1,114 residential condominiums, 1,535 properties with rental apartments and 22,191 parcels of land, according to Dave Truby, the county’s residential appraisal supervisor. In addition, 17,236 mobile home owners were apprised of their new values. Personal property accounts, which cover business and livestock equipment that’s being depreciated, account for an additional 10,275 tax bills. Six hundred two of the personal property bills are for livestock equipment alone.
Private owners of land and titleholders of mobile homes are not the only folks whose assets are taxed by the county. Owners of railroads, telephone companies, electric companies and the like also received notices, as did business and livestock operators who use non-real estate type equipment in connection with the operation of their businesses. The total value of Doña Ana County’s real and personal property clocked in at over $13.5 billion this year.
The taxable value of real and personal property is calculated to be one-third of the total appraised value, minus any allowable exemptions. In the case of a home valued at $150,000, the taxable value would be $50,000, minus any exemptions. Applicable mill rates used to calculate the amount of the property taxes vary depending on the location and type of property, i.e., city vs. county, or commercial vs. residential.
So what if you disagree with the county’s take on the value of your property? You simply file a protest petition with the assessor’s office no later than April 30. That date also represents the deadline for filing for the various property tax exemptions available to a significant number of city and county property owners. Here’s how the systems work.
Protesting your evaluation. Taxpayers can protest their values themselves or hire a property tax consultant to do it on their behalf. If they are successful, consultants typically take as much as 50 percent of the savings as their fee. Protest petitions can be downloaded from the assessor’s website at https://donaanacounty.org/assessor. Once the petition is received by the assessor’s office, a county appraiser will be assigned to contact you for an appointment to do an on-site inspection your property.
During his or her visit, the appraiser will want to review your closing statement or an appraisal report if you purchased the property within the last couple of years. A market analysis from a local Realtor detailing the 2018 value, flyers on nearby comparable properties that are for sale in your neighborhood, and any other documentation you may have that substantiates your claim of a lesser value should also be available for the appraiser to review.
Short sales and bank repossessions are typically not used as comparable sales because they are often discounted anywhere from 9 to 33 percent, according to statistics from the Las Cruces Association of Realtors.
After reaching a decision, the appraiser will notify you by mail of his or her determination. If you agree with the appraiser’s conclusion, you can indicate such on the form, and the process comes to an end. If you disagree with the reevaluation, you can submit a request to present your case to county staff at one of the protest hearings that take place in August and September. The assessor’s office received 947 such protests last year. Tax consultants represented 422 of those protests.
Applying for exemptions. There are four types of property tax exemptions eligible property owners can apply to receive. The most common is the Head of Family Exemption. A head of family is defined as a person who is responsible for at least 50 percent of the cost of support for the household. Just about anyone who owns and occupies a property as their primary residence meets the qualification — even single folks.
The exemption provides a $2,000 deduction from the taxable value, resulting in an approximate yearly savings of $62.63 for single-family residences within the Las Cruces city limits, and about $47.56 on homes in the county. Similar savings are afforded to property owners in Sunland Park, Anthony, Hatch and Mesilla.
The next most common exemption is afforded to veterans who were honorably discharged, as well as spouses of deceased veterans. The Veteran Exemption’s $4,000 reduction in net assessed value can be used in tandem with the $2,000 Head of Family exemption and saves the veteran or his or her unmarried surviving spouse an additional $125.26 in the city and $95.13 in the county. Applicants must obtain a certificate of eligibility from the New Mexico Department of Veteran’s Services prior to applying for the exemption. The Las Cruces office is at 2024 E. Griggs Ave. Call 575-524-6220.
When taken together, Head of Family and Veteran exemptions save homeowners whose properties are within the Las Cruces city limits $187.89 annually. County residents save $142.69 per year when both exemptions are applied.
A veteran who has been deemed to be 100 percent disabled, as well as his or her unmarried surviving spouse, is eligible for another exemption, which is a 100% property tax abatement on his or her place of residence. The break eliminates property taxes in their entirety and remains on the property until a change of ownership occurs. The DVS can provide the information and forms needed to make application.
The fourth and final exemption is the Valuation Freeze. This tax break freezes the assessed value at this year’s level and minimizes future tax increases. It is offered to two types of homeowners. One is a person who has been deemed to be 100% disabled, regardless of age. The other consists of those over the age of 65 whose 2018 modified gross income was $32,000 or below. Proof of income and disability must accompany the application. Homeowners who have qualified for the freeze over three consecutive years no longer have to apply.
I’ve always received excellent customer service when I’ve called or visited the assessor’s office at the Doña Ana County Government Center at 845 N. Motel Blvd., in Las Cruces. Call 575-647-7400. I think you will as well if you choose to swap out a little legwork for a fairly sizable hunk-a-dough.
See you at closing.
Gary Sandler is a full-time Realtor and president of Gary Sandler Inc., Realtors in Las Cruces. He loves to answer questions and can be reached at 575-642-2292 or Gary@GarySandler.com