Assessors add up which homes are rentals

Carson City is giving straggling homeowners a last-ditch chance to verify whether they live in their home or rent it out, before property tax assessments are made this summer.

A cap on property tax increases passed by the state Legislature earlier this year makes it important for the first time that assessors across the state determine whether a home is a live-in or a rental.

The new law caps increases on residential taxes at 3 percent and on commercial taxes at up to 8 percent, 5.4 percent in Carson City. Rental homes are considered commercial, for property tax purposes.

Carson City sent out verification forms last month to 15,644 home owners, asking them to vouch for which type of property they have. For any home the city doesn't received a voucher from, assessors will assume it is a rental, making it subject to the higher cap.

The deadline to send the forms in is today. As of Tuesday, about 80 percent of the vouchers had been returned and Carson City Assessor Dave Dawley said everyone else will get another chance.

"This year we want to be real lenient because this is new and we were in a rush getting these (vouchers) printed and out there," Dawley said. "We really want to help people and get them that lower cap if they qualify for it."

The 3,500 or so homeowners who didn't return a voucher will get another one in the mail soon. Dawley said he hopes to get them sent out as soon as today.

Next year, the city will likely be a little more strict in enforcing the deadline, because the residents will have much more time to fill out the voucher and stick it in the mail.

Worried that rental house owners might lie about living in a home to secure the lower cap, lawmakers put a penalty for false claims in a follow-up bill shortly before the session ended.

Residents who claim a false property type to qualify for the lower cap can be fined three times the amount of the difference between the two tax amounts, plus whatever is owed.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.


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