November is just around the corner, and you know what that means: Time to get those property taxes paid. Payments must be postmarked no later than Monday, Nov. 17, to be eligible for a discount and to avoid late penalties.
If you’ve received your tax statement and you find yourself scratching your head about the various numbers listed there — Real Market Value, Maximum Assessed Value, Total Assessed Value — don’t worry. You’re not alone. Not by a long shot.
Oregon’s tax rate structure is aggravatingly complicated, courtesy of Measure 50, a constitutional amendment passed in 1997 that was designed to limit tax increases. It’s an admirable concept: It created the assignment for each property of a “Maximum Assessed Value,” which cannot rise by more than 3 percent per year. Which sounds simple enough — and it would be, if that were its only component. However, Measure 50 also created the assignment for each property of an “Assessed Value,” which can fluctuate because it’s determined in part by the property’s “Real Market Value,” which the Assessor’s office sets based on  the property’s value as of January 1 of that tax year. (The Assessed value is determined by the lesser of a property’s Real Market Value and its Maximum Assessed Value.)
In an ordinary housing market, the premise is, for most folks, comprehendable when thoroughly explained. However, we haven’t experienced an ordinary housing market in many years. Consequently, ever since the housing market crashed in Central Oregon, predicting a property’s future taxes, in most cases, has been exceedingly difficult.
Last year, the County introduced a video (see below) designed to spell out, in layman’s terms, the basic premise of our tax structure and why it has created, for some property owners, wildly fluctuating tax bills from one year to the next. Hosted by the “Property Tax Fairy” (an odd choice, but nevertheless…), the video explains why three properties on the same street that were built at about the same time might have three dramatically different tax bills. It’s worth viewing, if you have any questions (and, really, who doesn’t?) about how the values placed on your property have been determined.
If your tax bill doesn’t make sense to you, you might want to attend one of the upcoming Town Halls that are scheduled, in which County Assessor Scot Langton and his staff will explain how the County appraises property and determines values. They’ll also be available to address any questions you may have.
Or you can call the Deschutes County Tax Assessor’s office at 541-388-6508, for more info. They can also walk you through the tax appeals process, which is fairly straightforward (to successfully appeal your property taxes, you’ll need to provide evidence to substantiate your claim that the value the assessor has attached to your property is too high). Appeals must be filed by Dec. 31.
Here’s the Town Hall schedule:
Oct. 29, 5-6:30 pm: La Pine City Hall
Nov. 3, 5-6:30 pm: Sisters Council Chamber
Nov. 5, 5-6:30 pm: Deschutes Services Bldg, Bend
Nov. 6, 5-6:30 pm: Redmond Fire Hall
Chances are, you might find your answers in the aforementioned video. Here it is:


About the Author
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE, is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Bend and Redmond.