Tahoe Residents Face Huge Tax Hikes

By  | 

The value of property on the Lake Tahoe side of Douglas County may increase as much as 60 percent this fall if Nevada tax officials have their way.

If approved by the Nevada Tax Commission in October, assessed land values would increase by 45 percent along Kingsbury Grade, which leads to the lake, to 60 percent along U.S. 50 which runs parallel to the shoreline.

Douglas County Assessor Doug Sonnemann says he was directed by the state tax panel to come up with an updated land appraisal method.

Appraisals were last done for the area in 2000 and 2001. Sonnemann said there hasn't been a reliable basis for large-scale property tax increases because there haven't been enough land sales on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe to use as examples in calculating tax bills.

But he said pressure from the state's tax department has forced the change, mirroring changes in Washoe County, which saw property taxes go up by as much 49 percent in one year.

"We recommended last year to the Tax Commission not to have an increase," Sonnemann said. "In October, the state's Taxation Department asked for a 100 percent increase. At that point, we didn't have enough information and so the commission came back asking us to look at sales and come up with a factor for this year."

Land values on homes along Kingsbury Grade would increase by 45 percent, or up 15 percent per year since that area's 2001 appraisal. Property along the U.S. 50 corridor was last appraised in 2000, so the increase would be 60 percent or 15 percent multiplied by four years.

The formula is based on two years worth of land sales, the sale and resale value of homes and the median sale price in the Lake Tahoe Basin for a single family residence.

For a home along the U.S. 50 corridor with a taxable land value of $220,000, an additional $1,000 would be added to the $1,700 now paid on such land. Taxes also are paid on structures built on the land, but the proposed formula wouldn't apply to such improvements.

If the new formula is approved, property owners would get notices in December of the higher taxes that would be due for the fiscal year starting in July 2005.

Lakeridge property owner John McCall compared the tax hike proposal to conditions in California before Proposition 13, a 1978 initiative that essentially caps property taxes at about 2 percent a year.

"Now we have the prospect of greatly increased taxes on our homes: the same parcel, the same view, diminishing services and aging structures to feed an insatiable desire to develop and spend," McCall said.