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North Dakota law closes loophole for notice of big property tax increases

BISMARCK - One of eight new laws taking effect Friday in North Dakota will close a loophole that kept property owners from receiving notice of significant property tax increases in certain cases.

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North Dakota State Capitol. (Korrie Wenzel/Grand Forks Herald)

BISMARCK – One of eight new laws taking effect Friday in North Dakota will close a loophole that kept property owners from receiving notice of significant property tax increases in certain cases.

The 2013 law required that property owners be notified if the assessed value of their property was going up by 10 percent and $3,000 over the prior year. It was part of an ongoing effort to boost transparency and truth in taxation, state Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said.

However, the notice requirement applied only when such an increase affected a specific parcel. So, if a city or county increased the assessment on an entire class of property, such as agricultural land or commercial land, those property owners didn’t receive a notice, Rauschenberger said.

An attorney general’s opinion confirmed that they didn’t qualify for notice under the law, he said.

Earlier this year, lawmakers passed House Bill 1057 to close the loophole.

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“Basically, it broadened the notice of increased assessment to make sure nobody fell through the cracks because of an across-the-board increase,” he said.

Those who would not have received notice under the old law can expect to see notices starting in early spring if their assessment increase meets the trigger point, he said.

The vast majority of the 534 bills passed by state lawmakers earlier this year took effect in July or August.

Among the seven other laws hitting the books Friday is a requirement that property tax levies requested by unelected governing bodies – such as airport authorities and weed control boards – are subject to adjustment by the elected bodies of the city or county. City and county leaders also can request financial information from the unelected bodies to make sure they need the taxing authority.

Under a separate but somewhat related law, library boards and job development authorities must file a financial report for the preceding calendar year showing their ending fund balances if they seek approval of a property tax levy.

Another new law requires the Department of Human Services to publish a quarterly report of all behavioral health services provided or supported by the department, including the number of clients served and the amount of state and federal funds budgeted and spent on each service.

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