2017 Act 68 - Summary

December 11, 2017

To: Assessors, Primary Assessors
      County Clerks, Real Property Listers & Treasurers
      Municipal Clerks & Treasurers

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue would like to inform you of the 2017 Wisconsin Act 68 (AB 480) that was published on November 28, 2017, and how it impacts property assessment. 

The following provides a summary of the changes. The 2018 Wisconsin Property Assessment Manual (WPAM) will provide additional details.

Summary of Changes

  • Amended 70.05 (4m) – assessor property access
    • Property owner may deny assessor interior entry
    • Denial to enter interior shall not prevent owner from appearing at Board of Review (BOR) to object
    • Assessor may not increase the value solely on the property owner's refusal to allow entry
  • Created 70.05 (4n) – assessor property access
    • If requesting view of interior, assessor shall provide written notice that includes property owner rights
    • Statute provides notice language assessor must provide:
      You have the right to refuse entry into your residence pursuant to section 70.05 (4m) of the Wisconsin Statutes. Entry to view your property is prohibited unless voluntarily authorized by you. Pursuant to section 70.05 (4m) of the Wisconsin statutes, you have the right to refuse a visual inspection of the interior of your residence and your refusal to allow an interior inspection of your residence will not be used as the sole reason for increasing your property tax assessment. Refusing entry to your residence also does not prohibit you from objecting to your assessment pursuant to section 70.47 (7) of the Wisconsin statutes. Please indicate your consent or refusal to allow an interior visual inspection of your residence.
  • Amended 70.47(1) – Board of Review Time and Place of Meeting
    • Current law – meet annually during 30-day period starting 2nd Monday of May
    • New law – meet annually during 45-day period starting 4th Monday of April, no sooner than seven days after the last day which the assessment roll is open for examination under 70.45
  • Amended 70.47(7)(aa) – Board of Review Appearances
    • No person can appeal to the BOR if refused reasonable written request of assessor to view exterior of property
  • Amended 70.47(7)(af) – Board of Review and Property Appealed Using the Income Method to Value
    • No person can appeal to the BOR if the value was made by assessor using the income method unless no later than seven days before the first meeting of the BOR, the person supplies to the assessor all information about income and expenses
    • Information provided under this paragraph is not subject to right of inspection and copying unless a court determines before the first meeting of the BOR that information is inaccurate

Request to View Property Process

2017 Act 68 requires the assessor to provide property owners with written notice if requesting an interior view:

  1. Send state prescribed letter* for properties requiring view through regular mail. It is a best practice to send whether an interior or exterior view or both are required. Allow 14 calendar days to respond.
    *NOTE: DOR is posting the new state prescribed letter with the 2018 WPAM. Assessors may use a different version when approved by DOR.
  2. For property owners who do not respond, consent or denial may be obtained in person. If the property owner is unavailable, leave a door hanger with contact information.
  3. For remaining unresponsive property owners, send the state prescribed letter via certified mail. Allow 14 calendar days to respond.
  4. If property owners do not respond with an affirmative consent or denial to the request for view, the following options are available:
    • Consider using the next best information available (see 2018 WPAM Chapter 9) to establish a supportable valuation
    • Use the special inspection warrant (see 2018 WPAM Appendix for warrant template) to gain view if next best information is insufficient to develop a supportable valuation
    • Note the lack of response at the BOR, if applicable

Board of Review – Recommended Practice

2017 Act 68 allows the BOR to deny a hearing to a property owner who does not allow the assessor to complete an exterior view. However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court expressed due process concerns regarding a similarly worded statute in Milewski v. Town of Dover, 2017 WI 79, 377 Wis. 2d 38, 899 N.W.2d 303. It is DOR's recommendation to allow a BOR hearing even if the property owner denied an interior or exterior view. The lack of access to view, and the credibility of evidence offered can be managed as an evidentiary issue at a BOR hearing, rather than denying access to the BOR.