School Districts: Starting July 26, 2021, Ohio Senate Bill 57 authorizes property owners to seek real property tax reductions due to COVID-19 for Tax Year 2020

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July 26, 2021 marks the effective date of Ohio Senate Bill 57, which opens a special 30-day window for property owners to seek real property tax reductions for tax year 2020 due to COVID-19.

Property owners must timely file COVID-19 complaints within the 30-day window authorized by the new law – i.e., between July 26, 2021 and August 25, 2021. Any such complaint must also state with particularity how COVID-19 or a COVID-19 related state order reduced the market value of the property. A county board of revision must dismiss complaints that are not timely filed or only allege a general decline in market conditions in the area in which a property is located.

In addition, Ohio Senate Bill 57:

  • Authorizes property owners to file decrease complaints for tax year 2020 after the March 31, 2021 filing deadline;
  • Allows county boards of revision to value properties for tax year 2020 as of October 1, 2020 instead of the January 1, 2020 tax lien date (before COVID-19 began affecting Ohio businesses);
  • Permits county auditors to carry-forward reductions in value granted for tax year 2020 due to COVID-19 to subsequent tax years;
  • Waives the prohibition against filing multiple complaints within a triennial period for property owners; and
  • Gives tenants of commercial properties independent standing to file complaints in certain circumstances starting next year.

Importantly, a school district must file a counter-complaint within 30 days of receiving notice of a COVID-19 complaint. Counter-complaints filed more than 30 days after the county auditor provides notice will be too late and fail to make the school district a party to the case or any subsequent appeal regardless of the magnitude of the revenue loss to the school district.

School districts should be vigilant about monitoring communications from their county auditors’ offices at this time. Many school districts will also find it beneficial to work with legal counsel regarding advice and strategies for mitigating revenue losses from these complaints.

Should you have any questions about responding to COVID-19 complaints that may be filed for property located in your school district, please contact your legal counsel.

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