AAA Rated Standard & Poors July 2014

Frequently Asked Assessments Questions

Q. Who establishes the tax rate?
A. The City of Suffolk City Council. The real estate tax rate is established each year after two separate public hearings have been held by the City Council - one hearing on the tax rate and one hearing on the budget.

Q. How are real estate taxes calculated?
A. Real estate taxes are calculated by multiplying the property's assessed value by the current tax rate. For example, if the tax rate is $1.08 per $100 of assessed value and the property is assessed at $100,000, you multiply $100,000 by .0l08, which gives you an annual tax of $1,080.

Q. What is the effective date of annual assessments?
A. Annual Real Estate Assessments are effective July 1st of each year.

Q. How do I know if my property assessment has changed?
A. Each spring of each year assessment notices are mailed to all property owners. At that time, if a property owner has a question about their assessment, they can call or visit the Assessor's Office. Staff is available to answer questions about the assessment and will make available information relating to the assessed value.

Q. Will home maintenance increase the assessment?
A. Generally speaking, no. However, repairs that materially enhance the value of the property or repairs that recapture a loss in value that previously resulted in a lower assessment will most likely result in an increased assessment.

Q. How can my assessment increase or decrease even when there have been no changes made to the property?
A. The most frequent cause for a change in property value is a change in the market. A shortage of houses in a desirable neighborhood may send prices soaring, while in a recession, homes may stay on the market for a longer time with some homes actually selling for less than anticipated. In good economic times, inflation alone may cause an increase in property values.

Q. Are properties reassessed every year?
A. Property assessments are reviewed every year, but assessments are not necessarily changed every year.

Q. What is meant by the term "sales ratio"?
A. The sales ratio is the relationship between a property's assessed value and the property's selling price. This relationship is expressed as a ratio (a percentage). The assessment ratio is calculated by dividing the property's assessed value by the property's selling price. For example, if a property is assessed at $95,000 and sold for $100,000, you divide $95,000 by $100,000 and this gives you an assessment ratio of 95%.

Q. What is the required ratio of assessed value to fair market value?
A. The State Code mandates, "... annual assessments... shall be made at 100% of fair market value..." This state law was adopted in the City of Suffolk effective January 1, 1977. The State Department of Taxation conducts an audit of Suffolk's assessments annually to monitor the City's assessment to sales ratio.

Q. How do I access property assessments and record information?
A. Property records are available on the Internet and at the Assessor's Office located at 108 Commerce Street, Suffolk, Virginia.

Q. What should a property owner do if they disagree with their assessment?
A. Property owners are encouraged to call or email the Assessor's Office should they have any questions. Staff is available to discuss the assessment and will make available information relating to the assessed value.    

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