March 29, 2015

FAQs

North Dakota Law NDCC 57-02-08(20) provides that fixtures, buildings and improvements up to the amount of $120,000 when owned and occupied as a homestead by a disabled veteran of the United States Armed Forces who was honarably discharged or who has been retired from the armed forces with an armed forces service-connected disability of 50% or greater, or is the un-remarried surviving spouse of such a veteran may receive an exemption on their real estate taxes.

When filing for the exemption for the first time, you must complete the Application for Property Tax Exemption and attach the following information: An affidavit or physician's certificate declaring disability. A copy of the veteran's DD214 showing that the veteran was honorably discharged from active military service. A certificate from the Department of Veteran's Affairs certifying to the percentage of disability. The exemption is automatically renewed annually. However, the veteran or the veteran's un-remarried spouse must re-file if that person sells the property, or no longer claims is as a primary place of residence or if the veteran dies or receives a change in the percentage of the certified rated service-connected disability.

For further information please contact Dave Arntson, Property Appraiser, by calling him at 701-433-5344 or by emailing him at david.arnston@westfargond.gov.

North Dakota's Homestead Tax Credit Program (NDCC 57-02-08.1) provides assistance to lower income senior citizens and disabled persons in making their property tax payments.  Depending on their qualifications, a tax payer can save between 20-100% on their property taxes, up to a maximum taxable value of $100,000.  A property owner must be 65 years of age or older during the year in which the application is made unless that person is permanently and totally disabled.  The owner can't have assets in excess of $75,000 including the value of any assets gifted or otherwise divested within the last three years and excluding the unencumbered value of the homestead up to $100,000. For complete details about West Fargo Property Tax Incentive Programs

After gathering all the income and medial expenses for the prior year, you will also need to complete the application form and return it to West Fargo City Assessment Department.  If you need help completing the application, please contact Paul Fracassi, Property Appraiser I, at 701-433-5341 or by emailing him at paul.fracassi@westfargond.gov.  If you are a disabled person under the age of 65, you must provide a physician's certificate of disability.

According to NDCC 57-02-08(22) all or any part of fixtures, buildings, and improvements upon any non-farmland up to a valuation of $160,000,owned and occupied as a home by a blind person may be exempt from residential property taxes. Residential homes owned by the spouse of a blind person, or jointly owned by a blind person and spouse, shall also be exempt within the limits of this subsection as long as the blind person resides in the home. For purposes of this subsection, a blind person shall be defined as one who is totally blind, has visual acuity of not more than 20/200 in the better eye with correction, or whose vision is limited in field so that the widest diameter subtends an angle no greater than twenty degrees.

The exemption provided by this subsection extends to the entire building classified as residential, and owned and occupied as a residence by a person who qualifies for the exemption as long as the building contains no more than two apartments or rental units which are leased. Besides completing an application form first time applicants for this exemption must provide the assessment office with a copy of a doctor's certificate stating that the person is legally blind according to the NDCC.

If you want any help in completing the application, please contact Paul Fracassi, Property Appraiser I for the City of West Fargo, by calling him at 701-433-5341, or by emailing him at paul.fracassi@westfargond.gov.

Yes, depending on the type of business, location of the business, number of primary jobs created and other factors. We have a variety of potential incentives.  See our section on making things work for more information.

For more information and to find out if your business qualifies please contact the West Fargo Economic Development office at 701-433-5311, visit the website at www.acityonthegrow.com or email matt.marshall@westfargond.gov.

The Renaissance Zone program is a tool to help cities revitalize their communities. By offering both state and local tax incentives for 5 years, both residents and business owners are provided with an incentive to invest in the community.

The program is unique in that cities develop handcrafted development plans that address each city's specific goals.

An appraisal is an estimate of the price that most people would likely pay for your house in its present condition. Your annual property tax is based on this estimate of value. The West Fargo Assessment Department places a value, or appraises, all property in the city. These valuations determine the distribution of the property tax burden --not the total amount of taxes paid in the city. The city conducts periodic reappraisals to assure that changes affecting market value (up or down) are reflected in your assessed value.

The average appraisal will take 15 - 20 minutes and will involve an outdoor and indoor inspection. The determing factor if your taxes will go up or down is how the current assessed valuation relates to today's market value. Any changes that occur from this reappraisal will not take affect until the tax bill you receive the following December (the December bill you receive reflects the value placed on your home according to it's value on the previous February 1st).

What are the ownership requirements? The first owner after the builder is eligible to receive the exemption. The owner must reside on the property. How is the incentive figured? West Fargo offers $150,000 on new residential construction. The incentive is on the structure only. For example, if the property is valued at $175,000 with the land at $30,000 and the home at $145,000 then the most the incentive would be for is the $145,000 for the structure itself. Do I owe any other taxes? This incentive is for the general or consolidated taxes only. It does not cover any annual installment of specials or drain taxes. When does the incentive start? It starts January 1st of the year after the property owner takes possession and occupies the home.

If a property owner moves into the home in October 2013, then the exemption starts January 1st, 2014 and will be for the years of 2014 and 2015. Will my escrow company consider the incentive when determining the escrow payment I make? Yes, they will allow you to make smaller escrow payments during the time you are receiving the incentive. However, a property owner should make sure that the escrow company knows when to increase their escrow payment to avoid a shortage in their accounts when the exemption time has expired. Typically you would be required to pay back any escrow shortages plus start increasing your monthly escrow for the following year.

The City of West Fargo determined that the present method of assessment of real property did not encourage investment of capital in rehabilitation and remodeling of commercial and residential buildings which resulted in some properties being allowed to decay and become in need of repair and modernization; and thereby, resulting in a decreasing of the tax base. The City chose to use the Property Tax Exemption for Improvements to Commerical & Residential Buildings (NDCC 57-02.2) as an economic development tool to prevent this from happening. Also known as the remodeling exemption, the City offers either a three or five year exemption based on the value of the completed project. If the property value increase is over $25,000 the property is eligible for five years. If it is less than $25,000 the property is eligible for three years. The application is filed with the City Assessor and it is determined by the assessment staff if the improvements qualify for the exemption. A residential property must be at least 25 years old. There is not an age requirement on commerical properties. The exemption must be approved by the City Commission. The last assessment on record will remain for up to five years and any value gained by the remodeling would be exempted.

The best time to apply for the remodeling exemption is before the project starts. However, a property owner can apply after the project is completed and still be eligible. This application form should be completed. For more information about this program, click on the following links for a state brochure, the state guidelines and West Fargo City guidelines.

For any further questions, please contact the City of West Fargo Asssessment Office by calling 701-433-5300 or emailing us at assessor@westfargond.gov.

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Board of Equalization

Property Tax Incentives

Property Taxes

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City Assessor's Office                                        

Nick Lee

West Fargo Assessor

Contact
Phone:  (701) 433-5343
Email:   Assessor@westfargond.gov
Fax:      (701) 433-5319
Address:  800 4th Avenue East, Suite 1, West Fargo, ND  58078
Hours:  8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. M-F                                                                                                             

Board of Equalization
Property Information

Assessor's Duties

The West Fargo Assessment Department is responsible for the assessment of real estate for property tax purposes.   Through a continuing process of gathering and reviewing property information along with analyzing construction costs and sales of real estate, the department is able to meet our goal of providing fair, accurate and current values on property within our jurisdiction.   The Assessment Department is not responsible for any special assessments.  Special assessments are a function of the Finance Department.

The Office of the State Tax Commissioner oversees the valuation of real property in the North Dakota; they use a sales ratio analysis to determine if a jurisdiction is maintaining their property valuations at market. Market is basically the price most people would pay for a given property in its present location and condition.  The Assessment Department uses a CAMA (Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal) program to aid in the valuation process.  Through the use of the program, any identical properties in the City of West Fargo should be assessed at the same value and; therefore, pay equitable property tax on those parcels.

Although, the work of the Assessment Department does not determine the total amount of taxes paid, it does affect the uniform distribution of the property tax burden.  Every property’s share of the total property tax is based on the Assessor’s value.  The budgets set by the City, County, Schools and Park Districts are determined by their local needs.  The total budget of all local entities is divided by the taxable valuation determined by the assessment officials to obtain the mill levy.  The mill levy is then multiplied by the individual property’s taxable value to determine a property owner’s share of the tax burden.

February 1st of each year is the official assessment date.  Changes to property valuations are made at this time.  These changes can occur due to new construction, remodeling, exemptions being removed or neighborhood reassessments.

The Assessment Department also maintains ownership, parcel and improvement information along with legal descriptions.  Information on individual parcels can be found here. This information is updated every April after the Board of Equalization has met for the current year.

Assessment Forms and Applications

Shown below are various forms that property owners may need when dealing with their property valuations.  Whether it is to request a tax estimate on what new construction might be or to file for an exemption of property tax or whether it is to appeal your current valuation, hopefully you will find the forms you need below.  Residential property owners can also find an explanation of exemptions they may be eligible for along with the required guidelines and forms at Property Tax Incentives.  Please remember that these are forms are specifically relating to the assessing of property for taxation purposes or understanding the policies and procedures of taxation.  Forms pertaining to other areas of the city can be found under that department.

Rights of a ND Property Owner

All property in ND that is subject to taxation is assessed according to its value on February 1st of each calendar year.  The following brochure can give a property owner valuable information on what their legal rights are regarding their property and taxation.

Application for Abatement or Refund of Taxes

NDCC § 57-23-04
If a property owner believes that true and full value for property taxes purposes is not correct, the first step would be to contact the West Fargo Assessment Department at 701.433.5300 and talk with the Property Appraisers or the City Assessor regarding their concerns.  After consulting with the Assessment Department, an owner still believes that the valuation is incorrect, they have the right to file for an “Abatement or Refund of Taxes”.

Exemption of Property for Tax Purposes

NDCC § 57-02-08
This section of the ND Century Code allows for various organizations to request an exemption from property tax due to special circumstances such as a religious organization, nursing homes, public hospitals, and non-profit organizations such as group homes and lodges.  For other exemptions for residential property owners visit the West Fargo Property Tax Incentives.

Remodeling or Renovating

N.D.C.C. § 57-02.2If you are a property owner who is considering a remodel or rehab on your property, the City of West Fargo participates in an incentive program that may allow you to qualify for a reduction on part of your property taxes for up to five years based on the increased value of the project.  For further information please click on the following links:

Tax Estimate or Special Assessment Request

The City of West Fargo requests real estate agents, contractors, lenders or others who are requesting information on tax estimates for new construction or information on special assessments fax in their requests to 701.433.5319.   Below are forms for each request.  Please allow for up to 48 hours for a return reply.

Low Income Housing Tax Credit Projects (LIHTC)

The City of West Fargo is committed to encouraging the creation of high quality affordable housing in our city.  The City will work in cooperation with developers on qualifying projects under the Federal LIHTC program.  One of the incentives is offering a 15 Year payment in lieu of tax or PILOT based on that program.  For information regarding this program:

For any questions regarding West Fargo’s Program, contact the Economic Development & Community Services Director, at (701) 433-5311

Or for more information on the State Program, contact the ND Housing Finance Agency at (701) 328-8080 or visit their website at www.ndhfa.org

NDCC § 40-57.1
The State of ND has given cities and counties the opportunity to participate by granting incentives in the form of property tax exemptions, payments in lieu of taxes or a combination of both to qualifying businesses who are expanding their companies in the state.  The City of West Fargo realizes the effectiveness of these incentives in growing our community and participates in this discretionary program. 

For any questions regarding West Fargo’s Program, contact the Economic Development & Community Services Director, at (701) 433-5311

Renaissance Zone

The City of West Fargo established a Renaissance Zone to help spur private sector reinvestment in the downtown core area of the city.  The City is looking at improving deteriorating properties and curtailing the vacation of those building which weakens the local tax base.  Development and investment activity taking place within the zone may qualify for a variety of tax incentives designed to stimulate growth and a give a renewed vitality to this area of West Fargo.

For any questions regarding West Fargo’s Program, contact the Economic Development & Community Services Director, at (701) 433-5311