The Wisconsin Department of Revenue has recently proposed a fundamental change in Wisconsin assessment law, under which assessment functions for locally assessed property would occur at the county level rather than the municipal level.
Under current law, all assessment functions for locally assessed property, including both the valuation process and the appeal process, are conducted at the municipal level. Locally assessed property in Wisconsin includes all residential and commercial property, with the exception of manufacturing and utility property which is centrally assessed by WDOR.
Because all assessment functions occur at the municipal level, there are 1,851 separate and independent taxation districts in Wisconsin. Since most states conduct assessment functions at the county level, no other state has even close to that number of taxation districts. According to WDOR, moving to a county assessment system would eliminate issues of duplication, lack of uniformity and inconsistency in applying assessment standards, and would permit full value assessment of all state property on an annual basis. The change would also permit full transparency by having all assessment data easily accessible to the public online.
The change, if enacted by the Legislature in the form proposed by WDOR, would be phased in over a five year period. Information on the WDOR proposal is available at the WDOR website under “County Assessment” at http://www.revenue.wi.gov/html/local.html.