IowaAuditors.org

Common Questions

  • What are the real estate responsibilities of the County Auditor?
    • While practices vary between Counties, in general, the County Auditor has the following statutory responsibilities:

      - Apply Equalization Rates by property class and Assessor jurisdiction to calculate equalized 100% Actual Values in odd-numbered years

      - Apply annual Rollback Rates by property class to calculate Taxable Values

      - Enter state-certified values for Utilities and Railroads for taxation

      - Administer Tax Districts, TIF Tax Districts, and SSMID Districts such that taxpayers pay the correct amounts and governmental authorities receive the correct amounts

      - Calculate and certify base value and increment value in TIF Tax Districts

      - Certify Taxable Values to Cities, Schools, Townships, and other Governmental bodies for use in preparing annual budgets

      - Review and certify the budgets of Cities, Schools, Townships, and other Governmental bodies for compliance with tax rate limits

      - Certify annual Consolidated Tax Levy Rates by Tax District

      - Calculate and certify taxes to the County Treasurer for collection

      - Calculate and certify drainage assessments to the County Treasurer for collection

      - Maintain the official County plat books and transfer records and enter ownership name changes for taxation and assessment

      - Certify amounts Military Exemption, Homestead Credit, Ag Land Credit, and Family Farm Credit to the State

  • How do I get my deceased Joint Tenants name off my property?
  • I have gotten married/remarried. How can I change my last name of the property records?
    • See your local Attorney to prepare a Quit Claim Deed for you. Be sure to file it in the Recorder’s office.
  • I am divorced. How can I get my ex-spouse’s name off my property?
    • A change of title or some kind of deed needs to be prepared and filed in the Recorder’s office. This is usually taken care of during the divorce proceedings.
  • How do I change the mailing address of a tax statement?
    • Contact your local Auditor, Treasurer or Assessor. You can also fill out a change of address form and mail it to one of the above offices.
  • How do I remove a deceased Life Estate Holder?
  • What is a legal description?
    • A legal description is a description of real estate that is used in legal documents such as abstracts, deeds, mortgages, etc. For example: “Lot One (1) in Frank’s Subdivision, Mason City, Iowa”.
  • What is an administrative real estate description?
    • An administrative real estate description is a description of real estate used by county offices for real estate assessment and taxation administrative purposes. Typically, it will be similar to a legal description, but may contain abbreviations or other summaries. For example: “L 1 Frank’s Sub”.
  • What is a property class?
    • Real estate parcels are annually assigned a property class by the local assessor or the Iowa Department of Revenue. Property classes include Agricultural, Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Railroad, Utility, and Gas & Electric Utility.
  • Does the local Assessor set the value for all real estate property?
    • No. Property owned by Railroads and Utility companies is valued by the Iowa Department of Revenue and certified for taxation to the County Auditor.
  • What does it mean that 100% Actual Value is “equalized”?
    • The Iowa Department of Revenue imposes equalization orders in odd-numbered years against each property class for each local Assessor. Sometimes called “the Assessor’s report card”, the equalization order is used to increase or decrease 100% Actual Values when those values are not sufficiently accurate.
  • What is a Homestead Credit?
    • The Homestead Credit is a tax credit funded by the State of Iowa for qualifying homeowners, and is generally based on the first $4,850 of Net Taxable Value. In the case of a Disabled Veteran Tax Credit, the value of the Homestead Credit is increased to the entire amount of the Taxable Value of the property.
  • A property just sold; can you tell me the new owner & what they paid for it?
  • What is a real estate Military Exemption?
    • Veterans who served in active duty during certain periods of time and who were honorably discharged are eligible to receive a Military Exemption on their property taxes. Pursuant to Iowa law, the Military Exemption value is determined by the dates the veteran served in active duty. Values for most veterans are $1,852, or $3,704 in the case of a husband and wife who both qualify. The value for World War I veterans is $2,778.
  • How do I apply or find out if I qualify for the Homestead Credit or Military Exemption?
    • Your local Assessor has forms that you need to complete, sign, and file for the Homestead Credit and/or Military Exemption. That office can also tell you the qualifications for each.
  • What offices at the county are involved in the assessment and taxation of real estate?
    • The County Assessor, Auditor, and Treasurer are part of the tax cycle in that, in general, each has various administrative responsibilities for a given assessment year. In addition, the County Recorder records various real estate documents, including subdivision plats, mortgages, surveys, and conveyances such as deeds, etc.
  • How can I see a plat map or an aerial photo of my property?
    • Some counties have their parcel maps and aerial photographs available on the Internet. Find a link to the specific county website that has this information.