As expected, Governor Mike DeWine signed into law a bill that could provide significant relief for property owners whose property values were impacted by COVID-19 and related government lockdowns. SB 57 gives Ohio real property owners the opportunity to file special “COVID-19 Complaints” for tax year 2020 asking Boards of Revision to consider the pandemic’s impact on the value of the property. The special complaints would set valuations for the 2020 tax year to Oct. 1, 2020 instead of the normal tax lien date of Jan. 1, 2020. The bill will go into effect on July 27, 2021.
Owners whose property values were impacted by the pandemic must file a special complaint within thirty (30) days of the bill’s effective date, so no later than Aug. 25, 2021. For the complaint to be successful, it must allege a reduction in the property’s value solely due to COVID-19 circumstances and not general economic or market decline. Complaints cannot simply allege COVID reduced their property value but must provide specific examples and evidence of the impact that the pandemic or COVID-related government orders had on the value of their property.
The bill does not state the type or form of evidence that property owners must present to establish a reduced property valuation caused by COVID-19. Generally, the best evidence to present to Boards of Revision in requesting valuation changes is a professional appraisal. Here, the appraisal would need to compare the original 2020 tax valuation with the valuation of the property as of Oct. 1, 2020. Other satisfactory evidence might include proof of reduced rental income due to loss of office of other commercial tenants, or proof of loss of revenue from retail customers. However, these losses must be specifically tied back to the pandemic or state–ordered lockdowns.
Although the form of the special complaint has not yet been published, the special complaint could become a valuable tool for property owners to reduce their real estate tax burdens, but the window for filing is short, and preparations should be undertaken as soon as possible.
If you have questions about the special complaint or would like to discuss further, please reach out to Steve Marrer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216.736.7267.