About the Tax Department
Functions and Responsibilities - Property and Utility Taxes Division
|Powers and Duties of the Tax Commissioner|
|Major Goals and Objectives|
|Functions and Responsibilities|
Property tax is an important source of revenue for financing school districts, and county, city and township government. While local government units have the responsibility of assessing and taxing all classes of real property, the Office of State Tax Commissioner provides assistance to local government units to ensure that the property tax is administered equitably throughout the state.
The Property and Utility Taxes Division, under the direction of the State Supervisor of Assessments, works with local government to maintain equalization of property assessments among the various counties in North Dakota. To ensure property tax equalization, the division performs annual ratio studies, which compare true and full value of real estate with the sale price of properties which have been sold. If significant assessment variations exist between counties, steps are taken by the State Board of Equalization to equalize those assessments. In addition, personnel from the division investigate individual assessments for the board and make detailed appraisals of complex properties when the owners of those properties have appeared before the State Board requesting a review.
The Homestead Credit and Renter Refund Program is also administered by the Property and Utility Taxes Division. Under this state-funded program, qualifying senior citizens and totally and permanently disabled persons receive a reduction of their property tax assessment or a partial refund of annual rent paid. The total amount of revenue lost to the local taxing districts by this reduction is reimbursed to them from the state general fund. Credits are allowed not only against real property tax assessments but against special assessments as well. Credits allowed for special assessments become a lien on the property. The division has the responsibility for monitoring the liens and for providing a release whenever the liens are satisfied.
Assisting the Tax Commissioner and the State Board of Equalization in making valuations of utility property for property tax purposes is the responsibility of the Utilities Tax Section. Most real property is assessed by local government. However, the property of railroads, airlines, and public utilities such as electric and gas companies are assessed at the state level. The Tax Commissioner, utilizing appraisals by the Utilities Tax Section, makes tentative valuations and the State Board of Equalization sets the final assessed valuations. The section then certifies to each county the value placed on the utility property located within that county, and the tax is administered and collected by the local governments.
Another responsibility of the Utilities Tax Section is administering the state severance tax on coal and the coal conversion privilege tax on electrical generating plants and coal gasification plants. The section audits reports of collections of these energy-related taxes. The Utilities Tax Section also prepares reports on the collection of these taxes and information for revenue distribution by the State Treasurer's Office, which is responsible for allocating revenue from these taxes among the state, the producing counties, and a permanent Coal Development Trust Fund.