Randolph County residents should be receiving their tax assessments in the mail, Assessor Phyllis Yokum said.
"Personal property assessment sheets are mailed around the 15th of July each year," Yokum said. "We try to mail the sheets around the same time that the tax statements are mailed from the Sheriff's office. This way you can make one trip to the courthouse.
"If you were assessed the previous year, then you are on our mailing list and you will receive an assessment sheet in the mail. If you aren't mailed an assessment sheet, please stop by or call our office."
All vehicles need to be assessed between July 1 and Oct.1 each year for the following year's taxes. The vehicle assessment also includes campers, boats, motor homes, ATVs and utility trailers. All titled vehicles are taxable, whether they are presently licensed or not. Vehicles are not automatically assessed for taxes; each person is responsible for making sure their vehicles are assessed. You should assess the vehicles owned on July 1 of the current year.
The assessment sheet needs to be filled in with all necessary names to save problems when renewing a license at the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Names on tax statements cannot be changed after the statements are issued. It is necessary to pay personal property taxes every year, even if you choose to renew your license plates on a two-year basis.
Making sure your vehicles are assessed and taxed on a regular tax statement could prevent interest and penalty charges on a supplemental tax statement that has to be made in the assessor's office. Interest is automatically charged on supplemental tax statements and WV Code 11-3-10 provides for a penalty of $25-$100 on assessments not reported in a timely manner. A vehicle tax receipt is required by the DMV to renew all vehicle licenses.
Personal property mobile homes also need to be assessed, which are mobile homes where the taxpayer does not own the land and it is necessary to tax them on a personal property tax statement.
Vehicles with high mileage can receive a reduced value if the high mileage affidavit is obtained from the assessor's office and returned by Oct. 1 with the assessment sheet. The vehicle must meet the high-mileage requirement. High mileage reductions only can be applied to vehicles turned in on a regular assessment, but not on a supplemental tax statement.
The State Tax Department has provided an "Old Cars Report Price Guide" for all assessors to price antique vehicles; along with a directive that these vehicles should be valued by these guides. If a taxpayer has an antique vehicle, officials are encouraging them to provide information pictures of the vehicle so that the office can place an appropriate value on the vehicle. The condition of an antique vehicle certainly has a bearing on the value.
All businesses are required to file a Commercial Business Property Return. These are mailed to businesses that were assessed the previous year and are on the mailing list. All businesses should file, whether you receive a form or not. Forms can be picked up at the Assessor's office. This form covers machinery and equipment, inventory, vehicles owned by the business, etc.
Businesses that are operating on July 1 and do not file a Commercial Business Property Return will be considered a non-filer and an appraised value has to be estimated. If operating a business, no matter how small, contact the assessor's office for possible assistance when filing returns. Commercial Business Property Returns should be filed with the Assessor's office by Sept. 1 of each year.
All dogs, 6 months or older, are required to be registered and have a dog tag. All dogs are required to have a county tag, which is $3, and dogs located in municipalities also are required to pay the fee for that municipality. For example, dogs located in the city of Elkins would pay the $3 city fee in addition to the $3 county fee. The dog tags are good until July 1 of the next year.
The assessor's office uses a dog tax computer program in the office that registers the dog and assigns a dog tag number. This is a big time saver because once the dog is registered and the assessor has the information, it stays in the system and only takes a couple of minutes to issue a new tag the next year.
There are many exemptions that are available for people who meet the requirements, such as the military exemption, which applies to active military personnel who are active on July 1 and are stationed outside of the state of West Virginia. They are entitled to select one vehicle to be tax exempt. They still should list this vehicle on their assessment, but be sure to note that they are active military. Paperwork that proves active status has to be presented at the time of their assessment and it is required that their assessment be completed by the Oct. 1 deadline in order to receive the exemption.
The homestead exemption applies to people who are 65 years old or will be 65 by the following July. It applies to the home they live in. The applicant's name must be on the property and it must be their residence. They must have lived on the property they are seeking the exemption on for six consecutive months prior to the application. This exempts $20,000 of assessed value. People up for this in the office from July 1 to Dec. 1 each year. There is a two-year residence requirement for people moving in from out-of-state. Taxpayers must apply in the assessor's office and only have to sign up one time unless they change their residence.
The disability exemption works the same as the Homestead Exemption except there is no age specification. The owner has to be totally and permanently disabled. Proof of disability, such as an award letter or doctor's letter, has to be presented to the office when the application is filled out.
Property also can be placed under a managed timberland contract with the Division of Forestry. This is a tax incentive program with the initial contract being due by July 1 and annual applications for certification due by Sept. 1 of each year. The forms and information for this program can be picked up in our office. The value on managed timberland tracts is determined by the Division of Forestry and State Tax Department.
The Farm-Use Exemption is for farm property. The tracts must produce $1,000 of agricultural products to qualify. People who have applied the previous year will be mailed an application. This application has to be done every year and the deadline is Sept. 1. It is very important the form is returned by Sept. 1 and be completely filled out. This reduces the price-per-acre value on land listed as farm, such as pasture and tillable.
The Sheep and Goat Program allows the assessor to collect $1 per head on all breeding-age sheep and goats. The money is deposited into a special account designated Integrated Predation Management Fund by the Department of Agriculture. This fund is used solely to enter into a cooperative service agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand the coyote control program. Farmers can pay the $1-per-head fee at the time of their assessment and if the farmer has a sheep or goat killed by a coyote, he or she can contact the Department of Agriculture and have the coyote trapped and killed.
Another important issue is address changes. Notify the Assessor's office of all address changes because all correspondences are done through the mail. It is also how you receive your tax statements for both personal property and real estate. Address change forms can be picked up in the assessor's office. If address information is not up-to-date, tax statements may not be sent out in a timely manner.
The Notice of Improvement form, according to West Virginia Code 11-3-3a, requires any person, corporation or other owner of real property who builds any building or structure where the value of the real estate increases more than $1,000 to give notice in writing to the assessor within 60 days after the commencement of the improvement of the property.
There is a Notice of Building or Real Property Improvement form that should be completed and filed with the assessor. This form can be obtained in the assessor's office or from the website.
Many of the assessment and exemption forms may be found online at randolphcountyassessor.com. All forms can also be obtained by stopping by the assessor's office in the James F. Cain Courthouse Annex.
The Randolph County Assessor's office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and may be reached by telephone at 304-636-2114.