A correction recently issued by the governing agent that sets the assessed value of motor vehicles for Arkansas’ 75 counties has left assessors scrambling to update their records.

On Aug. 12, county assessors across the state were notified by the Arkansas Assessment Coordination Department (AACD) that certain new and used motor vehicle values provided to county offices in January 2019 were incorrect.

Assessors across the state are in the process of notifying taxpayers about the changes, which will be applied to 2019 assessments that are due next year. The personal property tax statements mailed out earlier this year were for 2018 and are not affected by the AACD’s corrections.

“My staff and I noticed in January that these values did not look right, and were worried that they were incorrect,” Baxter County Assessor Jayme Nicholson said Tuesday. “But every time we called the AACD, we were assured they were correct.”

Arkansas counties rely on the AACD to establish a motor vehicle’s assessed value, which is 20 percent of the fair market value of the car or truck.

“Some of the car values dropped in half, but many were no more than a few hundred dollars,” Nicholson said. “They were entered incorrectly (by the service AACD purchased) and were just too low. My employees have done this long enough, they knew something wasn’t right as they were assessing them.”

Some of the more commonly affected vehicles in Baxter County included Jeeps, Toyotas, Chevrolets, GMC and Ford trucks, she said.

Nicholson stressed that unless a taxpayer had purchased a new vehicle this calendar year, the odds of their 2019 assessment being more than last year was highly unlikely.

The 2019 assessed value of all the motor vehicles in Baxter County dropped by $7 million due to the faulty assessment numbers, Nicholson said. Pope County’s 2019 assessments were down $20 million due to the incorrect market values, she said.

“Usually the county’s total personal property assessments go up because of new vehicles being purchased, especially in a good economic times,” Nicholson said. “We could tell something was not right.”

Nicholson said her office received a software update with the correct vehicle assessment values late Friday and have been preparing 18,588 notices to mail out to Baxter County taxpayers. Those notices are expected to be mailed Wednesday, she said.

Taxpayers normally have until Aug. 30 to request an appeal of their 2019 property evaluations to the county equalization board. Because of the AACD update, taxpayers will have until Sept. 6 to make such an appeal, Nicholson said.

The equalization board will schedule appeal hearings into the fall; the Sept. 6 deadline is just the final day for taxpayers to request a hearing be scheduled.

Taxpayers may discuss their vehicle values by calling the assessor at (870) 425-3453 or by visiting the office at 6 East 7th Street in Mountain Home.

“Taxpayers should note that their vehicle’s assessed value is not necessarily higher than last year, it was just incorrectly valued from the state this year,” Nicholson said.

Any vehicles marked final that taxpayers sold after May 31 will still appear on their assessment, but will drop off in 2020. Any vehicle purchased after May 31 will not be valued until 2020.

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