As Phelps County residents receive their personal property tax bills this year, some are raising concerns about paying more for their vehicles — even if they hadn’t purchased one since the 2011 tax year.
County Assessor Bill Wiggins said there are several reasons why property owners are seeing increases in the valuation of their vehicles on their 2012 tax bills — a phenomenom that is being experienced statewide.
Phelps County along with other counties in the state used a new valuation system provided by the Missouri State Assessors Association for the 2012 tax year.
This new system allows for a more accurate procedure in selecting the particular model and submodel from the statutory guide book, Wiggins explained on the county assessor’s website.
County assessors in Missouri use the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) guidebook, which is the state’s standard for vehicle values. The publication reports that in 2012, the values of many used cars increased.
According to state statute 137.115, “The assessor of each county and each city not within a county shall use the trade-in value published in the October issue of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association Official Used Car Guide, or its successor publication, as the recommended guide of information for determining the true value of motor vehicles described in such publication.”
If a particular motor vehicle is not listed in the publication, the assessor would then use information in his or her judgment to fairly estimate the true value of the vehicle, according to the state statute.
Wiggins noted that market conditions dictate the values in the NADA guidebook and the vehicle market has bounced back since the recession.
However, Wiggins also said that the perception that a valuation increase of a vehicle has occurred could be because of an inaccurate and artificially low value in previous tax cycles. The same holds true for motor homes or RVs.
The new system also allows assessors to use a new online tool to look up the exact details of a person’s vehicle and its worth using the VIN number.
“The vehicle value gathered when using VIN decryption more accurately reflects the value of the particular model and submodel, despite whether one personal property owner writes in the submodel and another owner of the same year, make, model and submodel omits the submodel information on their assessment declaration form,” Wiggins explained.
“With VIN decryption, owners of the same vehicle will be assessed the same,” he said, noting that in the past, that might not have been the case. “The goal is equalization of value.”
Wiggins said his own personal property value increased this year because the VIN decryption indicated a higher value for his car’s particular submodel than had been reflected in previous assessment years because only the base model with no submodel indication was used.