Sometimes even City Council members have to fight the system. The Minneapolis council's longest-serving member, Lisa Goodman, successfully petitioned in tax court earlier this year for a $40,000 reduction in the assessor's valuation of her home.
Goodman said her situation was different from the 1,399 property owners who appealed their tax valuations this spring but she nonetheless felt like an underdog before she challenged her assessment in Minnesota Tax Court.
As a City Council member, Goodman helps set the city's property tax levy and has a vote on the mayor's nominee for tax assessor.
To avoid a potential conflict, city officials in Minneapolis — and those with a personal or financial relationship with them — are not allowed to appeal their property tax assessments to the Local Board of Appeal and Equalization. They can petition tax court, however.
"It sounds really scary," Goodman said. "You have to pay almost $200 and fill out a bunch of paperwork, but then it's the exact same thing as filing your appeal."
Goodman, who bought her Bryn Mawr neighborhood home in October for $480,000, appealed her $503,000 valuation in tax court by paying the filing fee and filing the necessary paperwork. Her home had been a rental.
"I felt like I needed to do something ... to get the price correct so that I didn't have to keep going back through and questioning it," Goodman said.
In February, Hennepin County agreed to settle the case by dropping the valuation to $463,000.
Goodman said tax court is less of a process than many might think. No other council members have filed assessment appeals in court recently.
Homeowners and landlords across the city are increasingly skeptical of the city's assessments of their home values. The city saw an 83 percent increase in property tax appeals this spring.
At a council meeting Friday, Goodman said landlords in her ward are being forced to raise rents because of rising property taxes. The city is bumping up the assessed value of their properties based on the rents that they could be charging in that neighborhood.
Asked if her case highlights a larger problem with the way properties are assessed, Goodman said her challenge was unique because she had just purchased a new home and the previous owners hadn't been paying close attention to the value of the property.
"I love the fact that people are filing appeals, but my situation is not that one," she said.