Property Tax FAQs

Q. How is Agricultural property valued?

A.

General Information

Many states have laws regarding the preferential assessment of agricultural land. This means that farm and ranch assessments are usually based on the lands capability to produce agricultural products. In Wyoming, agricultural land is taxed based on the land’s productive capability under normal conditions.

AG Land Definitions

Wyoming uses the following points as criteria for land to qualify as agricultural land for tax purposes:

1.      As of the assessment date, the land is being used for an agricultural purpose, which includes: a.) cultivation of the soil for production of crops; or b.) production of timber products or grasses for forage; or c.) rearing, feeding, grazing or management of livestock.

2.      The land is not part of a platted subdivision.  Pursuant to §39-13-103(b)(x)(B)(II) individual subdivision parcels of thirty-five (35) acres or more “which otherwise qualifies as agricultural land” may be considered for agricultural classification.

3.      If the land is not leased land, the owner has derived annual gross revenues of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) from the marketing of agricultural products. If the land is leased, the lessee has derived annual gross revenue of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) from the marketing of agricultural products.

4.      The land has been used or employed, consistent with the land’s size, location and capability to produce as defined by the Department’s rules and the “Mapping and Agricultural Manual”.

Determining Productivity

There are three steps that must be satisfied to determine agricultural land productivity value:

1.      Classification. Identifying property ownership and classifying property types (i.e., urban, suburban, agricultural land, etc.)  is the responsibility of the County Assessor's office. The proper identification of property ownership is essential to the agricultural land evaluation process. It determines the ownership boundaries and is the first step in determining land use.

2.      Land Use. There are three major categories of agricultural land. They are irrigated crop, dry crop and rangeland any, or all three may be found in any given parcel of land. To properly value each agricultural parcel, these categories must be correctly identified and located. This is accomplished through the use of various materials, including aerial photography.

3.      Productivity. The following three categories of agricultural land are used in identifying productivity:

Irrigated Crop Land

Tons of all hay per acre is the productivity measurement used for valuing irrigated cropland. This “measurement” is determined from environmental factors that affect the soils ability to produce. These “factors”, or limitations, are published in the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Soil Survey and include items such as precipitation, length of growing season, slope, etc.

Dry Crop Land

Bushels of all wheat, per acre, are the productivity measurement used for valuing dry cropland. As with irrigated cropland, this “measurement” is determined by environmental factors that affect the soils ability to produce. These “factors”, or limitations, are the same as to those used with irrigated cropland.

Range Land

Animal Unit Months or "AUMs", is the productivity measurement used for valuing rangeland. The term "AUM" is defined as the amount of forage required to sustain a 1,000 pound cow, with or without a calf, for one month.

Determining Value

Once ownership has been identified, land use has been established and the productive capability has been tabulated for the parcel, a four-step valuation process begins:

1.      Determine Prices of Agricultural Products. This information is derived from the Wyoming Agricultural Statistics Service’s commodity price data. This information, which consists of all hay, all wheat & grazing prices, is converted to a 5 year weighted average.

2.      Capitalization Rate Selection. This rate is based on the Farm Credit Services of Omaha’s Long Term Portfolio rates (with an added effective tax rate component), which are also converted to a 5 year weighted average.

3.      Determine Net Income. To determine the net income, the unit price of each of the three commodities is multiplied by the production per acre. Next, the landlord share is determined, if applicable, then the expenses and production losses are deducted to establish a net income to the landlord.

4.      Capitalize Net Income. The final step in the process is capitalizing the net income. The following formula illustrates the final step in the valuation process:

 

Yield per acre * Net Value per Commodity Unit  = Land Value per Acre

Capitalization Rate  

Figuring the Bill

Wyoming is a fractional assessment state. This means that the taxable value is based on portion of the full value. In Wyoming this fractional amount is 9.5% for agricultural property.

To arrive at the assessed value multiply the total land value per acre times 9.5%. The assessed value is then multiplied by the appropriate tax district mill levy, to obtain the total tax value.

Updated 10/16/2012

 

Q. What is the Property Tax System in Wyoming?

A. 

The Department of Revenue is organized into six operating divisions: Ad Valorem Tax Division, Excise Tax Division, Information Technology Division, Mineral Tax Division, Administrative Services Division and the Liquor Division. The agency’s primary mission is the administration and collection of severance and excise taxes and the wholesale distribution of alcoholic beverages and enforcement of liquor laws. The agency administers the property tax system & values certain property. The State of Wyoming currently does not have a State Income Tax. There is a State Sales/Use Tax of 4% with a County option of 1%. County Lodging Tax varies from 2% to 4%. All property tax is based on the assessed value of the property. "Assessed value" means taxable value. "Taxable value" means a percent of the fair market value of property in a particular class as follows: (A) Gross product of minerals and mine products, one hundred percent (100%); (B) Property used for industrial purposes, eleven and one-half percent (11.5%); (C) All other property, real and personal, nine and one-half percent (9.5%).  Local Assessments.

The County Assessors establish taxable values for most properties within their counties. Property is taxed at fair market value. "Fair market value" means the amount in cash, or terms reasonably equivalent to cash, a well informed buyer is justified in paying for a property and a well informed seller is justified in accepting, assuming neither party to the transaction is acting under undue compulsion, and assuming the property has been offered in the open market for a reasonable time. Agricultural land valuation is based on its productivity. "Agricultural land" means contiguous or noncontiguous parcels of land presently being used and employed for the primary purpose of providing gross revenue from agricultural or horticultural use or any combination thereof unless part of a platted subdivision. Individual parcels of thirty five (35) acres or more within a subdivision may be considered for agricultural classification pursuant to W.S. 39-13-103 (b)(x)(B)(II). Agricultural land shall generally include land that is actively farmed, ranched or is used to raise timber for timber products (firewood will not be considered a timber product for agricultural classification purposes) to obtain a fair rate of return.

Reporting date for local assessed properties

All taxable property is appraised at its fair market value as of January 1 of each year. Taxpayer deadline for filing statement of personal property is March 1, unless a written request for extension is received not later than February 15.

Assessment Schedules

Mailed by the fourth Monday in April to notify taxpayers of the established valuation.

Protest Period

The person assessed may object to the assessment and valuation within thirty (30) days of the date of postmark on the schedule, at the County Assessor’s Office.

Tax Due

Taxes are due and payable at the office of the County Treasurer of the county in which the taxes are levied. Fifty percent (50%) of the taxes are due by November 10 in each year and the remaining fifty percent (50%) of the taxes are due by May 10 of the succeeding calendar year. If the entire tax is paid on or before December 31, no interest or penalty will be charged.

Exemptions

Personal property held for personal or family use excluding mobile homes.

Inventories

Snowmobiles.

Property used for pollution control to the extent provided by W.S. 35-11-1103.

The property of veterans to the extent provided by W.S. 39-13-105.

All livestock including livestock in feed lots being fed for slaughter. This exemption applies only to ad valorem taxation.

Any improvement to residential property making entrance to or common facilities within the property accessible to a handicapped person.

Tax Credits/Deferral/Relief

Home Owner's Tax Credit, (when funded by legislature).

Deferral of Tax Collections.

Property Tax Relief Program.

See the exemption brochure for more information

State Assessments Utilities

The Ad Valorem Tax Division establishes taxable values for properties such as utility and transportation companies; which includes airlines, electric and gas distribution, pipelines, railroads and rail car, and telecommunication companies.

Minerals

Minerals are valued by the state for Ad Valorem and Severance Tax purposes. The values are allocated back to the counties for Ad Valorem purposes.

Reporting date for state assessed properties

The Department of Revenue annually value and assess the following property at its fair market value for taxation:
Deadline for gross product of all mines and mining claims; Annually, on or before

February 25 of the year following the year of production.

Property of pipeline companies and electric utilities; April 1.

Property of railroad companies and rail car companies; May 1.

Property of telecommunications companies; April 1.

Protest Period for state Assessed Property

Following determination of the fair market value of property the Department will notify the Company by mail of the assessed value. The Company may file objections with the State Board of Equalization within thirty (30) days and appear before the board. The Company assessed shall also file a copy of the written objections with the County Treasurer of the county in which the property is located, who shall notify the County Assessor and the Board of County Commissioners, with an estimate of the tax amount under appeal based upon the previous year's tax levy.

Update 10/15/2012

 

Q. How is residential property taxed in Wyoming?

A.

Property taxes are one of the primary sources of funds for local governments, counties, school districts, cities, towns and special agencies such as water and sewer districts. The state has not levied a property tax for a long time. The federal government does not receive any revenue from your property tax. Property taxes are based upon the market value of your property. Market value reflects the worth of your property as of January 1 of each tax year.

Annual Reappraisal

The legislature requires that County Assessors annually update property values. Assessors are also required to complete a detailed review of property characteristics for each property at least once every six years. The State Board of Equalization may take corrective action if county assessments do not meet established standards.

What is Taxed?

The residence and any additional structures and land are valued. Property taxes are not charged on home furnishings or furniture except where they are part of a furnished rental property.

Market vs Taxable Value

Market value is the price your property would sell for if it were offered for a reasonable amount of time. This assumes that both the buyer and seller are unrelated, well-informed and under no pressure to buy or sell the property. Taxable value is the value used to calculate taxes due on your property. A residence (both land and buildings) receives a 90 ½ percent reduction from market value.

Example:

• Residential market value $100,000

• Residential reduction 90.5%

• Taxable value ($100,000 x 9.5 = $9,500)

Tax Rates

Tax rates are set by the various political entities with the legal power to levy taxes. These governmental entities include counties; school districts; cities and towns; and special taxing districts, such as water and sewer districts and cemetery districts. Once the taxing entities have adopted their budgets and tax rates, the tax rates cannot be appealed. However, obvious factual errors may still be corrected by the county. Your tax notice indicates the amount you pay to each taxing entity. To calculate your taxes, multiply your taxable value by the tax rate.

Example: If the tax rate was 80 mills, the formula would look like this:

• Taxable Value x Tax Rate = Tax Due $9,500 x .080 = $760.00

Taxes are due and payable at the office of the County

Treasurer of the county in which the taxes are levied. Fifty percent (50%) of the taxes are due by November 10 in each year and the remaining fifty percent (50%) of the taxes are due by May 10 of the succeeding calendar year. If the entire tax is paid on or before December 31, no interest or penalty will be charged.

TAX RELIEF

Veteran’s Exemption

Disabled veterans and their surviving spouses are eligible for this exemption. Filing date is on or before the fourth Monday in May with the County Assessor.

Property "Tax Relief" Program

The program is available to elderly, disabled, and low income home owners or if the home was purchased prior to December 31, 1987. This program may allow up to one half of the annual property taxes to remain unpaid. All unpaid taxes become a lien against the property. Filing date is on or before the second Monday in May with the County Treasurer.

Home Owner’s Tax Credit

The circuit breaker tax credit is allowed only if the legislature has appropriated moneys to reimburse the counties.

Property Tax Refund Program

The property tax refund program is available to persons who meet certain gross income criteria. An application must be filed on or before the first Monday in June with the county treasurer or Department of Revenue. The Department of Revenue shall issue all refunds due on or before September 30 of the year in which application is made.

Appeals

The person assessed may object to the assessment and valuation within thirty (30) days of the date of postmark on the schedule, at the County Assessor’s Office. Your appeal must address the issue of market value, not the rate of tax. Evidence supporting your estimation of the market value must be included in the appeal. If you do not agree with the County Board of Equalization’s decision, you may appeal to the State Board of Equalization. Appeals to the State Board of Equalization must be filed within 30 days after the final action of the County Board of Equalization.

For More Information

Contact your County Assessor if you have questions regarding:

• property value

• ownership

• mailing address

• legal descriptions

• residential exemptions

• tax relief programs

• tax rates

• valuation appeals

Contact your County Clerk if you have questions regarding:

• ownership

• legal descriptions

Contact your County Treasurer if you have questions regarding:

• delinquent taxes

• tax payments

Updated 10/15/2012


Q. Are there property tax exemptions and relief in Wyoming?

A. 

Wyoming is a "fractional assessment" State. This means our property tax applies to only a fraction of the full market value of property. This fraction is the property's assessed value. For most property, only 9.5% of market value is subject to tax. Consequently, a home worth $100,000 on the market is only taxed on $9,500 in assessed value. The real effect of fractional assessments is to exempt $90,500 of the home's value from taxation. Citizens are legally protected from increasing property tax rates. For county revenue, the property tax rate cannot exceed 12 mills (or 1.2%) of assessed value. For cities and towns, the rate is limited to 8 mills (.8%). With very few exceptions, State law limits the property tax rate for all governmental purposes. All Wyoming citizens benefit from property tax exemptions. Personal property held for personal use is tax exempt. Inventory if held for resale, pollution control equipment, cash, accounts receivable, stocks, and bonds are also exempt. Other exemptions include property used for religious, educational, charitable, fraternal, benevolent, and government purposes, among others. Improvements for handicapped access are also exempt.

Minerals are exempt from property tax, but must pay a gross products tax and a severance tax when produced. Under-ground mining equipment is tax exempt.

Wyoming also offers an array of partial exemptions and tax relief programs to benefit certain taxpayers.

Agricultural property receives a tax reduction if the productive value of the land is less than its market value. Livestock is also exempt from property taxes (other State fees apply).

Veteran’s exemption is available to Wyoming homeowners that have resided in the State for a minimum of three years, who are honorably discharged, served in certain military conflicts or possess an expeditionary medal. The exemption is applied against the veteran’s assessed value, up to the maximum of $3,000 per year, on property owned by the veteran and/or spouse. This exemption is also available to a qualified veteran's surviving spouse. An application must be filed with the county assessor by the fourth Monday in May (otherwise, the exemption may only be taken against motor vehicle registration fees).

Wyoming's homeowner's tax credit is available only when funded by the legislature. If the program is funded, it provides property tax relief for homeowners on their principal residence. Homes valued below $41,052 (full value) receive the highest tax credit. Owners of homes worth over $61,579 receive no tax credit.

The property tax deferral program is available to elderly, disabled, and low-income homeowners, or if home was purchased prior to December 31, 1987, and if the program is adopted by the county commissioners. This program may allow up to one half of the annual property taxes to remain unpaid. All unpaid taxes become a lien against the property. The taxes must be paid if affidavits aren't filed, if the property is sold or transferred, if the owner dies, or if ordered by the county commissioners. Commissioners may order payment of any deferred taxes, which exceed half the property's market value.

The Wyoming Department of Health provides annual tax refunds to elderly or disabled residents. Single persons receive $700, and married persons receive $800 (these amounts are reduced if income exceeds certain limits). Applications may be obtained at many Wyoming senior centers.

The property tax refund program is available to persons who meet certain gross income criteria. An application must be filed on or before the first Monday in June with the county treasurer or Department of Revenue. The Department of Revenue shall issue all refunds due on or before September 30 of the year in which application is made.

Updated 10/15/2012

 

Q. How are railroads valued in Wyoming?

A. 

The Department's Objective

The objective of the appraisal is to determine the fair market value of the operating assets of a railroad, upon which the counties will levy property taxes. Fair market value is the most probable price a property would sell for in a competitive and open market.

Authority

W.S. 39-13-102 gives the Department the authority to value and assess railroads, as well as other public utility property, for property tax purposes. Further, W.S. 39-13-103 requires the determination of fair market value on the properties appraised. In addition the Department has promulgated rules (specifically, Chapter 7 of DOR Rules) and procedures to carry out this responsibility.

Railroad Property Subject Valuation

The Department values the operating property of the railroads. Operating property means all property which the railroad uses (and in support of) its transportation activities. It includes roadbed and track, land and buildings, engines, owned rail cars, vehicles and other equipment involved in the transportation business as well as non-capitalized leased property used by the railroad. The non-operating property which is not included in our appraisal includes such things as property a railroad leases to others (i.e., land and buildings) and investment properties (such as stock in other companies).

Overview of the Process


The Department begins the appraisal process each year by determining the capitalization rate in accordance with DOR Chapter 7 Rules and Regulations. This is the rate of return a prudent investor would require from an investment in railroad property. It considers the cost of capital and the risk inherent in the industry. The Department then obtains information from the railroads regarding the cost of their assets, their incomes, and stock values. The data is verified comparing it to what is reported to federal regulatory agencies.

Wyoming Appraisal Models

The methods the Department uses to determine fair market value comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). Representatives from the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) and other appraisal organizations have worked together to develop these standards. USPAP requires an appraiser to consider three indicators of fair market value - Cost, Income, and Market.

The cost model the department uses utilizes historical cost. Adjustments are made to the original cost for physical deterioration, functional obsolescence (changes in technology) and external obsolescence (the property's inability to earn at a rate comparable to the capitalization rate). The income model calculates the current value of a company's future income, based on the capitalization rate. Review of the company's historical income for the past five years help to project the future income in the model. The market model uses publicly traded stock and debt securities to estimate the value of the underlying assets. A major problem in railroad appraisal is the lack of true market sales of railroad assets. Mergers and Acquisitions that have taken place over the last few years and continue today are not true market transactions. In most cases, the buyers are railroads who see other benefits to the mergers; thus, the prices they are paying do not use the same rate of return as the prudent investor, acting independently, would. For this reason, stock and bond prices are used as surrogates for underlying asset values. After estimating fair market values under each of the appraisal models, the results are reconciled. The result is the best estimate of fair market value of the railroad's operating property.

Allocation

Once the Department has established the fair market value of the company's entire operating property, an allocation is determined for the amount of value located within the State. To do this, statistical measures are used to determine the operating assets, railroad activities and the revenue generated within the State.

Distribution of Value to Counties


The railroads must provide the Department with data regarding the amount of track and other operating property they have in each county and each tax district. The information is used to distribute the Wyoming value to the various tax districts in the counties in which the railroads operate. The distribution data is provided to the County Assessors, who enter it upon the local tax rolls.

Updated: 10/17/12