Why am I paying taxes on an assessment that's higher than my property is worth?
Property owners know their assessment is used to calculate their December tax bill. What many taxpayers find confusing is that the assessment is only one part of the equation for computing the property tax. The other variable used to compute property taxes is the tax levy.

The Tax Levy represents the total amount of money needed to fund the budgets each year approved by the elected or appointed boards that run the different levels of government in Wisconsin. In West Allis, that includes the city, the school board, the county, the state, the sewerage district and the technical college.

The burden of tax created by the passage of the annual budgets for each of these entities must be met by the tax levy or the total amount of money collected each year. These taxes must be apportioned among property owners according to the percentage of ownership they have in the total property of the municipality.

The most important job of the assessor is to distribute the burden of tax in an equitable way between similar properties. The way that this is accomplished is to set the assessments of similar properties at similar levels using open-market, arms-length sales prices as periodic benchmarks.

If assessments are 10% above market values the tax burden will be the same as it would be if assessments were 10% below market levels. This is because whether assessments are high or low, the budget approved by elected and appointed officials will be met because the mil-rate will be adjusted to arrive at the same result.

The most important thing is not that an assessment is exactly at market level all the time, but instead that each assessment is in line with similar properties.

Show All Answers

1. What does an Assessor Do?
2. What are property taxes for?
3. What do the terms on the tax bill mean?
4. What is a Revaluation?
5. What is a “valid” or Market Sale?
6. How do I know if my assessment is fair?
7. I have recently built a new home. Will cost to build my property be considered when my assessment is calculated?
8. The Estimated Fair Market Value shown on my tax bill is more than I think my house is worth, what do I do?
9. Does the location of my property influence its value?
10. If after discussing my assessment with the Assessor’s office staff I still think the assessment is not correct, what should I do?
11. What happens if you review my property after I buy it or take out a building permit; if you discover something that isn’t on your records, will my assessment increase?
12. Can my assessment change in the years between citywide revaluations?
13. Can the assessment on my property be changed even if the assessor has not been inside my property?
14. How can my assessment change when I haven't done anything to my property?
15. Will I be notified if there is a change in my assessment?
16. I just purchased my home for less (or more) than the assessed value. Will you change my assessment to match my sale price?
17. The family across the street was foreclosed on by the bank who sold their home for a lot less than the assessed value; isn't that proof my assessment should be lowered?
18. If market values do go down, doesn’t that mean our taxes should decrease along with them?
19. What if I think my assessment might not be Correct?
20. Why am I paying taxes on an assessment that's higher than my property is worth?
21. How does the assessor value property?
22. I have a refinance appraisal – Will you change my assessment to the appraiser’s value?
23. Why do assessors avoid considering foreclosure or estate sales when calculating assessments?
24. What will happen to my assessment if I improve my property?
25. Will my assessment go up if I repair my property?
26. How does my assessment affect taxes?
27. Do the market values of all properties change at the same rate and over the same time frame?
28. What happens after the Board of Review makes its decision?
29. What is the Board of Review?
30. What is the Board of Review and what evidence do I need to present during a hearing?
31. I have heard that property values have gone down dramatically all across the Country recently, how does West Allis compare?