Personal property assessment forms mailed to Phelps County residents and business owners this past week have a new look to them.

County Assessor Bill Wiggins explained the changes to the new property claim forms mailed out Jan. 1 for the 2013 reassessment cycle.

The biggest change that personal property owners will notice is that the forms have been prepopulated with the vehicles, motorhomes and boats that have been previously assessed for taxes in Phelps County.

"For the first time, if it's already in our system, it's already on the form," Wiggins said. "If they haven't bought anything new or sold anything off of the list or have any other property, they can just check the box that says 'no changes' and sign it. They don't have to list it if it's already listed."

If there are changes — such as a different model type or year or if new vehicles were bought or sold — property owners can simply make the changes in the main box on the front of the form and make sure they check the "changes have been made" box.

Wiggins said the prefilled forms make it easier for the assessor's office because sometimes when property owners list their vehicles year after year, they may leave certain information out.

"Also when I came into this office, I had previously been a taxpayer and it was frustrating and I'd ask, why do I have to keep listing it over and over?" Wiggins said.

He noted that assessors use the prepopulated forms in other counties.

Farmers will still have to list their livestock, grain and hay and farm equipment, Wiggins said, but noted that farmers only need to list grain and hay that is for resale. Grain and hay used in livestock feeders do not need to be listed.

Wiggins said in the future, he would like to have those items prepopulated on the forms.

Also since Phelps County along with other counties in the state began using a new valuation system that uses a VIN decryption that more accurately reflects the value of the particular model and submodel of a vehicle, Wiggins asked property owners to include the VIN in their vehicle description. Wiggins said an easy way to find the VIN is by looking on the vehicle's insurance cards.

Wiggins also asked property owners to list their physical street location because it will help the assessor's office determine the correct taxing districts in which the property is located.

There also are different forms for personal and business assessment lists.

Wiggins said prepopulation the forms with the vehicles did not cost the assessor's office any extra money, but there were some costs associated with switching from letter- to legal-sized paper.