What’s New

Article From Our Team – Tyler Tackett

I am Tyler Tackett, I have been the software developer and information technology consultant for Property Valuation services for 16 years. I enjoy working at PVS because as a company they have embraced the use of technology to improve the quality of work while also improving the quality of life for employees. They have accomplished this by reducing the potential for user errors, streamlining processes and allowing for better work-life balance. This enables us to offer better service to our clients with more accurate and timely deliverables.

I have worked on most aspects of our information technology during my tenure here. We support both the real estate and business personal property department needs for software, hardware and web services.

As a software developer during my time here, we have implemented many features into our internally developed software solution. These features include document management, system-generated emails, client web access, e-filing of tax returns, integrations with Anybill and automating various processes while reducing user errors.

My personal hobbies include traveling, scuba, food, racing and spending time with my children.  We have traveled to the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Belize, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica and Grenada. Our favorite place to visit is Cozumel, Mexico, for scuba diving and sling hunting for lionfish when we are not playing on the beach with the children or enjoying great Mexican cuisine including the delicious huitlacoche. My wife and I both have racecars that we drive in the Big Bend Open Road Race in west Texas. We compete in the 145 mph class, which tries to average that speed over 120 miles on closed public roads between Fort Stockton and Sanderson near Big Bend park. Growing up my family owned restaurants, so we love trying the local restaurants when we travel. The most adventurous thing I have eaten is what the Belizeans call the “royal rat,” as it was once served to the queen. Its true name is the gibnut, and it could be described as a forest rat.

Property Valuation Services is continually looking for ways to improve our processes to better serve our clients.  If you have any suggestions please let your consultant know.

Article From Our Team – Jesse Cox

My name is Jesse Cox, an account executive for the PVS sales team. My career at PVS started in 2018 as a lead generator before I became the lead generator manager a couple of years later. I was promoted to account executive in 2021.

 As an account executive, I reach out to prospective clients whose situations may require our expertise in property tax reduction, for both real estate and business personal property taxes. Our prospects span the country. 

 Account executives also act as onboarding liaisons and continued resources for our clients.  More importantly, we learn more about who our clients are and their specific needs. We want to ensure this is not only a good fit but a great relationship.

 As most companies are winding down this time of year, PVS is ramping up its efforts to expand our clients. As an account executive, I know the spring tax season doesn’t leave a lot of room for error, and waiting for a tax notice to arrive before having a strategy in place can be detrimental to a proper reduction. That’s why autumn is a great time for us to start a conversation with prospects. Providing this perspective and understanding for prospects who may feel overwhelmed by the process is one of my favorite parts of the job. And if I can’t provide the answer, I have a team of knowledgeable experts who can.

Outside of the office, I enjoy wood carving. I also am an avid mountain biker who enjoys the expansive trail system around the Kansas City metro area. My 6-year-old daughter joins me on quite a few of those outings, as she just learned to ride this year. My wife doesn’t indulge in our two-wheeled adventures, so we find other family activities.

Article From Our Team – Ben Kogei

Ben Kogei - New Business Personal Property Team MemberMy name is Ben Kogei, and I am a new supervisor for the multi-specialty team in the business personal property department at Property Valuation Services.  I started working at Property Valuation Services in 2012. Prior to being promoted as a supervisor, I was working as a senior personal property tax consultant in the hospital team.  I have had the privilege to work in every team in the personal property department, which includes the hospital, dialysis and multi-specialty teams.  

As a team lead, I lead a team of property tax consultants, whose primary functions are to analyze and identify property tax-savings opportunities. We also prepare and ensure that the business personal property tax returns reflect the technical accuracy of our clients’ books and records. What makes us unique in the multi-specialty team is that we handle personal property tax responsibilities across many different industries, which include healthcare (specifically surgical, oncology, diagnostic imaging and behavioral health segments), industrial, communications, manufacturing and hospitality.

At this time of the year, my team is working on filing appeals, negotiating reductions of values, resolving issues on values or tax bills with assessors or tax collectors and working on personal property tax audits.  Our mission is to ensure compliance across our accounts, while also working to ensure that we are working to achieve the lowest possible taxes for our clients.

Here at Property Valuation Services, I enjoy working with my awesome co-workers a team that is highly knowledgeable and good at what we do!  Working together, we are able to get the job done.

Outside of work, I love spending time with my wife, my daughter and my son.

Should you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me or anyone in our personal property department.  We always like to hear from our clients!

Jeri Wells – Real Estate Consultant

My name is Jeri Wells and I am a real estate consultant for Property Valuation Services. I previously spent eight years with Deloitte & Touche in their Carlsbad, CA office working as a real estate consultant. I have worked in most aspects of tax consulting from personal property to real estate, from sales and use tax to outsourcing development. I have assisted with the development of accounting software and processes so companies are capable of producing on a mass scale.

Currently, I work as part of the renal dialysis group specializing in medical offices. Though I have primarily worked for the health care industry, I have experience in all property types in the United States and parts of Canada. I am licensed in Texas and recently returned from attending several hearings throughout Tennessee and Oklahoma. On the west coast, I specialized in direct assessment evaluation. I also worked at the forefront of innovating processes dealing in assessment appeals and personal property filing to help clients, companies and counties move into the more technological age.

I have worked my entire life as an accountant in one form or another, but I graduated from Pittsburg State University in Kansas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. I have been drawing and painting for as long as anyone who has known me can remember. I am also an avid traveler having driven to all four corners of this country. I have been to over 30 states and more than 13 countries. I tend to rent RVs in foreign countries and drive throughout for extended periods so I can get a real feel for the environment. I was raised in Kansas on a cattle ranch that my family has lived on since the 1850s. I spent 15 years on the west coast in Portland, OR and Carlsbad, CA.

Though I started consulting with a large firm, I am ecstatic to be working in a smaller company. Only in this environment can one get a deep sense of the companies and properties we work on. With PVS, we can get a better feel for our clients and truly understand what it is they need from us. By working on a more personal level, we can be more successful in our endeavors.

Article From Our Team – Catherine Murray

Catherine Murray - Director of the Property Tax Support GroupMy name is Catherine Murray and I am the director of the property tax support group (PTSG) here at Property Valuation Services. I am so excited to be celebrating my 20th year here with PVS this coming December! I started out with PVS as an administrative assistant and over the years have assisted both the real estate and the business personal property divisions in various degrees. With the help of an assistant, I make certain all your parcels and accounts are in our system as well as ensuring we have all the correct assessing and jurisdiction information and deadlines. This includes making certain that everything is set up correctly in our invoicing system. I oversee the creation and sending of the property tax summary reports that are sent to our clients twice per year, as well as various other reports that are requested throughout the year.

The Property Tax Support Group consists of 11 members who collect values for both the business personal property and real estate parcels and accounts in our system. We have tracked over 43,000 parcels in our system over the past year and are currently in the middle of the busiest time of year for assessment notifications and appeals. Not every assessor will send an assessment notice on every account each year, so our goal is to contact the assessing offices to obtain the current proposed values in time for our consultants to review and file appeals on your behalf. We can do this because of the extensive database we have that helps us track parcel and appeal date information.

Later this summer, we will start seeing an increase in property tax statements being issued and the Property Tax Support Group team will switch gears from collecting values to collecting, reviewing and creating tax bill approvals. Our office has approved over 28,000 tax bills over the past year — the majority between the months of October and January. We rely heavily on the expertise of our real estate and business personal property consultants and managers to help us ensure that all the data on your property tax approvals is accurate and we have a multi-step review process with a goal of 100% accuracy.

The last couple of years have seen a change in the dynamics of the job we do. Dealing with short-staffed government offices, delays in mail and working remote have challenged us but the PTSG department and PVS have remained strong.

Working for PVS over the last (almost) 20 years has never been dull. I am constantly learning new ideas and concepts and look forward to the next 20 years!

Article From Our Team – Abbie McWhirter

My name is Abbie McWhirter, and I am a supervisor of the renal dialysis group in the real estate department at Property Valuation Services. My career path at PVS started over 7 years ago and has included multiple positions and areas of specialty.

A glimpse into my daily work life would show continuous correspondence with clients on specialized projects, valuation preparation and work for ongoing property tax appeals. As a supervisor of our renal dialysis group, I work in tandem with real estate directors and consultants to review annual commercial property tax assessments for our clients, prepare and handle assessment appeals, and review real estate tax bills.

My introduction to ad valorem taxation began in the role of administrative assistant in the real estate department. While I enjoyed the position and collecting data, I was curious and desired to know more about the valuation side handled by our consultants, which aligned with my college degree. When an opening became available, I applied and became a real estate consultant myself in 2015. Through multiple positions in the real estate department, I’ve worked with all types of commercial real estate — from hotels to nursing homes to ice skating rinks — learning property-specific information to use in my valuations and appeals. For the last several years, I have worked specifically with our renal dialysis clients. PVS’ real estate department oversees roughly 3,700 real estate renal dialysis tax parcels across the entire U.S., and I currently supervise the team handling these parcels.

The renal dialysis market has continually shown to be a low-risk, high-reward investment property, with blue-chip tenants and long-term leases. But what might be a high-reward investment to a new owner is not rewarding to the tenant, who must pay the higher property tax bill spurred by the real estate’s sale price. Our renal dialysis department works diligently to mitigate our clients’ property assessment increases due to these sales, which are often bulk portfolio transitions, sale-leaseback situations or a developer/tenant purchase — none of which show a true arms-length, fee simple sale price. Our expertise in the renal dialysis market and real estate is reflected in our dialysis clients’ ultimate savings on property tax. 

As much as I find fulfillment and exhilaration in my day-to-day work, I also thoroughly enjoy our fantastic sports teams in Kansas City. At PVS, we’ve celebrated not only the 2015 World Champion Royals but have been spoiled with Kansas City Chiefs’ back-to-back playoff wins and becoming Superbowl champs. On days when I’m off work and not enthralled with sports, I enjoy time spent in the garden, reading a great book and spending time with friends and family. I also don’t mind the occasional vacation getaway!

No matter the sector, the commercial real estate market is dynamic, but our clients’ property taxes don’t have to be. At PVS, we pride ourselves on expertise, a high level of teamwork and communication to bring maximum tax savings to our clients. We are always a quick call away for all your real property and personal property tax needs.

Article From Our Team – Brent Moriarty

My name is Brent Moriarty and I am a new business account executive in the sales department. I have now been at PVS for more than 11 years and what really impresses me is how many employees have been with the company longer than that. I also get to participate in our mentoring program for new employees which allows me to meet new people in other departments and learn more about them personally as well as what work they perform within the company.

As an AE, I enjoy reaching out to new prospects and explaining how our services could not only help them reduce property taxes but also help manage their property tax needs for both real and business personal property. Another aspect that excites me about PVS is the number of companies that have been clients for 10-20 years. It really is a testament to the quality of work and communication given to everyone no matter how large or small.

 

I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere yet competitive nature of our department. The best part though is learning that we helped a new client with their property tax needs and save their organization money in taxes.

I have been married for 25 years and have three children, two at the University of Kansas and one sophomore in high school. In my spare time, I enjoy most outdoor activities like kayaking, cycling and golf, and watching my son participate in his school sports.

 

How to Choose a Property Tax Firm

How To Choose A Property Tax Firm

BY BRYAN HILEMAN

 

There are two certainties in life: death and taxes. We have heard this anecdote many times. In nearly every state, as a business owner, you have the responsibility to pay multiple types of property taxes. 

 

Real Estate Property Tax, meaning property tax levied on land and buildings that you own or passed through property tax on buildings you lease, is the most commonly understood. The other type being Business Personal Property Tax, which essentially means property tax paid on assets your business owns like equipment, computers, etc.

 

Many people we talk to feel there is nothing they can do about reducing their property taxes — the unfortunate theme being “I have to pay them” so there must be nothing that can be done. For informed business owners who do know this isn’t the case and that help is out there, the next problem becomes determining how to choose the best property tax firm for their needs.

 

Here are some of the drawbacks and advantages to different types of firms.

 

Big4 Accounting Firms

 

First, let’s look at the Big4 Accounting Firms or similar large accounting companies. We know who they are. You see their commercials on television, you see their logo on golfers’ apparel, you see their offices in your cities across the country. These firms offer a multitude of financial, accounting and tax services. These tax services include property tax, but property tax is not nearly as significant as others like corporate tax, income tax, sales and use tax, etc. 

 

If you are a C-Level Executive at a major national company who needs financial help and accounting services outside the realm of just property tax, partnering with a Big4 firm may be enticing. The idea of handing over anything to do with numbers definitely makes sense. Here is what we have heard from some of our clients as to why they did not feel the partnership with a Big4 was successful. 

 

First, if you do not need all different types of services, then just using one aspect of those companies can lead to feeling invisible. Specifically, if you were looking for someone to just help with real estate property tax appeals, then a Big4 accounting firm may not value your business. The odds of you receiving a call back from your point of contact or being effectively communicated with may not be what you were hoping for. Also, we have seen these larger representations ignore smaller valued properties, only working their top percentage in value or increases within a portfolio that quite frankly includes more properties than they can handle otherwise. In short, you may feel seen as just a number.

 

Local Firms

 

Another type of firm we compete with is what we refer to as a “local” firm. These companies are likely only working in one city/county. Their reps are likely former assessors — or they claim to work closely with local assessors. This seems like a great sales pitch. They’ll say they are close with the assessor, they drink or play golf with the assessor, they used to work with the assessor, they will have some impressive numbers regarding both percentage of properties reduced and total number of properties worked because all they do is work in that one area. Again, all of this sounds wonderful and they likely have a high percentage of properties reduced.

 

The problem is that this local representative’s entire livelihood demands that they maintain a close relationship with the assessor. Yes, they will obtain a high percentage of cuts, but those reductions will likely be minimal in actual value because fighting for significant reductions would potentially rock the boat that they otherwise need to remain calm in order to continue to be successful. In short, the person representing your businesses’ financial success may have a closer alliance with the person you’re going head-to-head with — the assessor.  

 

Furthermore, if you have properties in more than one county, it would be an exhausting task to find and maintain local representation in each taxing jurisdiction. It seems to make more sense to find a nationally respected property tax consulting firm that has extensive experience in the taxing jurisdictions where all your properties are located.

 

Law Firm

 

The third potential candidate for property tax help is hiring a law firm that specializes in property taxes. Now, there are some states where this makes a lot of sense as some areas of the country require an attorney to file a protest — like Illinois or Ohio for example. There are also some states that require an attorney if you reach a certain level of appeal past informals — such as Kansas or Texas — while others do not require one at all. We often partner with law firms in states where it is required or beneficial — so I still believe we are a great option — but to be honest, it’s understandable for a company to hire a law firm if their properties were solely in a state where legal representation is required.

 

The one nuance would be in Texas. Some attorneys who work on property tax appeals will tell you that litigating is the best way to achieve the largest reduction. This is a sales pitch, not a fact. We settle 90% of our appeals informally without the need to litigate. Our reductions are significant and arguably comparable to any attorney, without the need for an additional step in the appeal process or legal fees. Do not be fooled into hiring a lawyer when you do not have to. There are well over 2,000 property tax representatives in Texas alone and most are not attorneys.

 

National Property Tax Consulting Firm

 

The last type of representation is a national property tax consulting firm, someone who specializes in property tax but has a national presence and possibly even regional offices. There are some out there who do a great job, but the prior few years have seen an unprecedented shift in this unique subset of companies we need to analyze.

 

A few years ago, we would say we had five or six main competitors. Three specifically come to mind who either no longer exist or no longer exist in the same capacity they used to. Without naming names obviously, one sold to a foreign entity that wanted more of a presence in the United States. Another just recently sold out to a large national accounting firm that basically just bought their clientele. The third has since latched itself onto a law firm specializing in property tax and now essentially acts as their sales department.

 

Why are so many of our competitors falling off? Each has its own story I am sure, but one trend we are seeing across the country — especially in Texas — is that contingency fees are plummeting at an alarming rate. At first, it was due to competitors trying to undercut and steal business. Unfortunately, what we have heard from some of our clients who left and came back is that they only worked the top portion of their portfolio and didn’t do a great job saving money. 

 

Now, because of the pandemic and companies struggling, it seems to be simply a competitive market idea. Prospective clients are looking for the best deal, (meaning the best contingency rate regardless of other factors), so revenue is down for most firms. So some have sold out, others have closed their doors, and then there are a few of us who have continued to thrive under the same flag of integrity, hard work and a consistent belief that doing what is best for our clients is always the right thing to do.

 

So, how do you choose the best firm?

 

First, do not do so simply based on the lowest contingency fee. Someone willing to take 15-20% contingency is undercutting to win business. That is a risky hire. How hard are they willing to work for a 15-20% cut of the savings? Not a lot. They will tell you otherwise, but we have seen it become an issue. Most will only look at the largest properties or largest value increases and the rest will be ignored. It’s the old adage that you get what you pay for.

 

Instead, try looking at the people within the firm who will be working your appeals. Who are the owners, directors, managers and consultants who will actually have their hands on your values or on your returns? Are they willing to get on the phone to talk with you, even before you sign a contract? How effective are they at communicating? How many years’ experience do they have? Is there an online management tool for your property tax portfolio? Do they have appraisers on staff to lend a higher level of expertise to your returns or real estate valuation appeals? How much do they work in your taxing jurisdictions, but they hopefully do not only work in that one jurisdiction?

 

All of these questions regarding expertise, communication and service are incredibly important, but somewhat forgotten at times. It’s not about the contingency fee, it’s about how much money they can save your company in property taxes and how well they can protect you.

 

The information and views expressed in this article are of the opinion of the writer based on his experience and expertise working in property tax for over 13 years.

Article From Our Team – Ciera Schweiss

Hello. My name is Ciera Schweiss. In 2017, I began working at PVS as a property tax consultant on the hospital team for our personal property department.

At PVS I enjoy not only working for a reputable and honest local business, but I also like the opportunity to work with the company’s amazing clients. During the last year, I have had the opportunity to work more closely with our clients through personal property audits, appeals, client meetings and answering any questions about personal property taxes.

My day-to-day tasks are different depending on the time of year. During tax season, I am engaged in filing the property tax returns and in the summer months, I am reviewing changes that taxing jurisdictions are making to property taxes for the following year and examining the county property assessments for errors against the returns we prepared during tax season. In the fall, I put together year end reports to help our clients better prepare for property tax accruals.

I value working for a company that places such a strong emphasis on our employees working together to ensure accuracy, reliability and results for our clients. Our teamwork allows us to better serve our clients and I believe this is what sets PVS apart from many other accounting firms.  

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family, friends and my cat, Atlas, hiking, vegetable gardening and perfecting my banana bread recipe. I look forward to hearing from any clients and prospective clients with questions that you may have.  

Business Personal Property and Real Estate Property Tax Appeals Process

Personal Property and Real Estate Property Tax Appeals Process

Throughout the United States, every taxing jurisdiction calls the process of disagreeing with the assessed value of property different as they will either refer to it as a property tax appeal or a property tax protest. These two processes are treated in the same manner but called different names. For example, in Kansas, it is referred to as a property tax appeal, but in Texas, they refer to the process as a property tax protest.

 

BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY

Determination of Filing an Appeal or Protest

After receiving a notice of value, a taxpayer or their representation will decide if they want to file a property tax protest on their account. This process will be the same for both personal property tax and real estate tax.

For business personal property tax, renditions are required to be filed on an annual basis to the assessing jurisdictions. If these aren’t filed annually, assessors can place arbitrary assessments on the account. In most cases, the acquisition date and cost of the assets are used to place the assets on a set of depreciation tables to account for the loss in value as the assets get older. As assets depreciate differently, these typically include several tables that account for the loss of value at different rates. The calculation of this value plus inventory and/or supplies (if taxable in the particular jurisdiction) is how the appraised values are calculated for personal property taxes.

 

Property Tax Appeal or Protest Process with the Assessor

 

Once you or your designated agent have decided to appeal your value, each jurisdiction has a process to follow. Pay attention to deadlines and the procedures for your particular jurisdiction. With your Notice of Value, there is typically an appeal form that needs to be filled out. If there isn’t a form, you can send in a letter, or some will allow you to file the appeal on their website. Some jurisdictions ask that you provide your documentation to support the value you are requesting prior to the hearing. If they have requested the information, perhaps the assessor and/or board is willing to work with you informally to resolve the discrepancy prior to the hearing.  

 

Determination of Who is Correct

Because the State or County Assessor are government employees, it is often assumed that they are following state statutes or guidelines regarding general valuation, and they would like to believe they are correct in their methods. This is not necessarily the case, as PVS has developed multiple revaluation methodologies for assets to reduce our clients’ property taxes. That being said, solid backup data, research and sometimes legal arguments by experts are needed to support and defend value calculations or the board will ultimately side with the assessor.  

If the discrepancy is unable to be resolved informally, then you will want to attend the hearing to present your case. Once you have presented your case and the assessor has presented theirs, the board will either issue a ruling at that time or will wait until after everyone has left to determine the outcome. Once the outcome is determined, a notice will be issued to the taxpayer or tax agent regarding the case.

If the board does not side with the taxpayer, there is usually another step which can be taken. This step usually involves going to the State Board of Equalization. At this step, most of the time an attorney must be hired.  

 

REAL ESTATE

Almost all states across the country that impose real property taxes have a legal process in place for taxpayers to keep their real property assessments in line with the market. These assessment appeal processes are almost always annual and typically do not require use of an attorney. It is however recommended that taxpayers utilize industry experts such as property tax consulting firms since property tax consultants have a great deal of expertise and resources at their disposal to combat erroneous property tax assessments. 

 

Determination of Filing an Appeal or Protest

Property tax assessments are often viewed as set-in-stone or predetermined — out of the taxpayer’s control. Assessors in towns and counties across the country are widely presumed to be correct in their valuation of real property and property assessment laws are generally written with the assessor’s presumption of correctness as a starting point. Tax assessments are supposed to reflect the fair market value of one’s property. The market value of your real property is constantly in flux due to sales, changes in rental rates and changes in construction costs. For this reason, your real property assessed value should be monitored regularly. When was the last time you reviewed your property’s tax assessment?

Real Property Tax Appeal or Protest Stages

The real property appeal process varies from state to state, but in most cases, there are three main appeal stages: informal negotiations, board of review and litigation. Just as with business personal property appeals, there are deadlines to be mindful of when filing a protest of your real property assessment. 

Many taxpayers can find success at the informal level when being proactive and reaching out to their local assessors. If assessors begin to dig their heels in and decline to alter their assessment within the taxpayer’s requested valuation range, states typically have a process in place to have the appeal reviewed by a third party. This secondary appeal stage consists of either a hearing officer or a board of review composed of multiple members. 

Hearing officers and Boards of Review/Equalization do not always look at evidence as impartially as they should, so states have a third level of the appeal process established which generally requires engaging an attorney who specializes in property tax litigation. A cost-benefit analysis should be run when considering the litigation stage of a real property assessment appeal due to the costs involved with this extra stage. Not only are legal fees required but this stage will most likely require a full appraisal report to sway the opinion of the court. 

The litigation process for real property tax appeals can sometimes take years or even longer to resolve in certain instances. If the original assessment is far enough out of line however, most will find that seeing the assessment appeal all the way to the end is worth the additional legal fees and appraisal costs. 

 

Closing

Whether we are discussing real estate or business personal property, the bottom line is the same: do not assume that the values placed on your property and the corresponding property taxes are accurate. These values are computer calculated with minimal information involved. Reputable property tax firms, like PVS, have been cultivating and implementing valuation methodologies, developing relationships with assessors, and working to reduce our clients’ property tax liability for decades. There is something you can do about your high property taxes, and we can help. Contact us today about the property tax appeals process.