The Clayton County assessor classifies taxable property located in Clayton County. Property is placed in one of four classes: agricultural, residential, commercial, or industrial. Agricultural dwellings are included in the residential class. Property containing three or more separate residences (except condominiums), multiple-housing cooperatives, and certain nonprofit housing are considered commercial property. The class of all real estate is determined as of January 1 of the year of assessment.
Except for agricultural property, taxable real estate is assessed at 100% of market value. The selling price of not only the property being assessed, but of other comparable property is used to determine the assessed value. Prices of unusual transactions are typically not used in this determination. In deciding the market value of property leased to low-income people for purposes of the low-income housing credit, the assessor must consider other factors that reduce its market value.
January 1 of each year marks the beginning of the assessment year. The Assessor has until April 15 to complete assessments and notify taxpayers of the assessed value of their property. The property value as figured for the assessment year is for taxes due in the fiscal year beginning on July 1 of the following calendar year. For example, the value of a piece of property as determined in 2012 is used in calculating taxes due in September of 2013. If a new building is added to a property in 2012, it will not be assessed until 2013 and taxes will not be due until September of 2014.
Agricultural property, except for dwellings, is determined by productivity. Ag dwellings are valued the same as all other residential property. The land underneath the dwelling is assessed as ag land.
In odd-numbered years, the Assessor is required to reassess all property. In this same year equalization orders are issued by the Department of Revenue.
Land, buildings, machinery and equipment that belongs to gas, electric, railroad and telephone companies are assessed by the Iowa Department of Revenue and are taxed by the local governments. These properties are not eligible for the tax exemptions available to real estate assessed by the County Assessor. These companies typically have property located throughout the state, so it is more efficient for the Department of Revenue to assess it. Assessing the value this way, called central assessment, also helps prevent local disagreements regarding how the valuation has been distributed.