Board of Equalization
Duties & Responsibilities
The Board of Equalization is a five-member citizen panel, recommended by City Council and appointed by the Circuit Court. By law, the Board of Equalization members must be property owners in the City of Williamsburg.
The Board's primary and foremost concern is the equalization of real estate assessments to ensure that the real estate tax is borne equally by all. The Board of Equalization is a quasi-judicial body with specific legal powers, but limited in scope. That is to say that it has considerable powers in the matter of equalizing the burden of real estate taxation but has no other legal authority.
The General Assembly, in the 1979 session, amended Section 58.1-3374, Code of Virginia, to require that members of the Board of Equalization attend and participate in a basic course of instruction offered by the Virginia Department of Taxation.
Board of Equalization Appeal Procedure
To request a hearing before the Board of Equalization, property owners must first complete the Administrative Appeal Process, then either the owner or their agents must complete the required application that can be obtained by contacting the Assessor's Office during normal business hours or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . Electronic application submissions must be received before 4:30 pm on or before May 1st. Mail application submissions must be postmarked no later than May 1st.
Your application must be complete when submitted and include any documents that you plan to present to the Board of Equalization when presenting your case.
Hand delivered applications will be accepted by APPOINTMENT ONLY. To make an appointment please call 757-220-6185.
In the case of an owner appealing the assessment for more than one property, an application must be filed for each parcel seeking relief.
When a representative for the owner requests an application to appeal an assessment to the Board of Equalization, an original signed and notarized Power of Attorney or notarized Letter of Authorization granted by the property owner must be filed with the Assessor.
In such cases, the Power of Attorney or Letter of Authorization must specify the property to be appealed by referencing the tax parcel identification number.
An appeal to the Board of Equalization is not a complaint about higher taxes. You must attempt to prove that your property's market value is either inaccurate or inequitable when compared to similar property types.
In accordance with Section 58.1-3379.B of the Code of Virginia, "In all cases brought before the board, there shall be a presumption that the valuation determined by the assessor is correct. The burden of proof on appeal to the board shall be on the taxpayer to rebut the presumption and show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property in question is valued at more than its fair market value or that the assessment is not uniform in its application and that it was not arrived at in accordance with generally accepted appraisal practices, procedures, rules, and standards as prescribed by nationally recognized professional appraisal organizations such as the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) and applicable Virginia law relating to valuation of property."
Under the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), appraisals not specifically intended for the purpose of appealing assessment values cannot be accepted by the Assessor’s Office or Board of Equalization. Appraisals submitted for assessment appeals should include the following:
- The "Purpose of the Assignment" must be stated as "developing market value for the appeal of ad valorem taxation value."
- The "Intended User" should state "The City of Williamsburg Real Estate Assessor or The Board of Equalization."
- The effective date must be January 1, 2023.
Appealing to the Circuit Court
Property owners who disagree with the decision of the Board of Equalization may appeal their assessment to the Circuit Court of Williamsburg/James City County. The property owner may need to secure the services of an attorney to make the necessary filings with the Circuit Court. Application to the Board of Equalization and the subsequent hearing is a prerequisite to any filing with the Circuit Court.