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FAQ - Property Assessment Questions

How can I change my mailing address in the property tax records?
Please use the Taxpayer Address Change Request Form listed on the right. You can submit this information to Douglas County by using the Submit by E-mail button on the form or you can print the document and mail it to the Auditor-Treasurer's Office at 305 8th Ave W, Alexandria MN  56308.
How do I find my parcel?
go to www.co.douglas.mn.us and click on Parcel Info Lookup.
Will my Estimated Market Value go up if I repair my property?
Good maintenance will help retain the market value of your property.  Generally, your Estimated Market Value will not be increased for individual minor repairs such as those that follow.  However, a combination of several of these items could result in an increase in your Estimated Market Value.
  • Repairing a roof
  • Repairing porches or steps
  • Repairing original siding
  • Painting/decorating
  • Replacing plumbing or electrical fixtures
What if I don't let the assessor inside my house?
It is your right to decline an interior inspection.  The assessor will then make reasonable estimations regarding the property's interior finish and quality.  If you disagree with the resulting valuation the local board of review is not allowed to make any changes in your favor until you allow the assessor to inspect the properly.
What can I do if I think the Estimated Market Value is too high?
You are encouraged to first contact your Assessor's Office and discuss the assessment with the appraiser for your property.  You have the right to appeal the estimated market value.  The methods of appeal are detailed on the back page of your estimated market valuation notice also known as your Valuation and Classification notice that is mailed to all property owners around March.  The times to appeal are limited generally to the "Boards of Appeal" in April.
Why has my value gone up?
Property values are based on the typical sales prices which fluctuate with general market conditions such as the general economy, property locations, supply and demand, demographic changes, and changes in tax laws.  Per Minnesota state laws, as property values change in the market place, those changes must be reflected in the assessor's Estimated Market Values.
How do I get my land surveyed?
Property owners may contact a surveyor by checking the local phone listings.  Once a property is surveyed, it is strongly encouraged that the property owner provide a copy of the survey to the Assessor's office.  A survey provides the best possible method to ensure an accurate assessment of your property.  The county maintains a GIS map that is generally very accurate but it is not a survey.
What is the responsibility of the Assessor in the property tax system?
Assessors estimate property market value and classify them according to their use for property tax purposes.  Each year the assessor reviews the market valuation of your property to determine if changes in the real estate market require a change in the estimated market value.  Minnesota law requires that assessors actually view each parcel of real estate every five years to appraise its market value.  In addition, each year the appraiser inspects parcels with new construction, alterations or improvements.
What hours are you open?
Regular office hours at the courthouse are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Does the Estimated Market Value increase at the same rate on all properties?
No, it does not.  There are differences between individual properties and between neighborhoods.  In one area the sales may indicate a large increase in value in a given year.  In another neighborhood there may be very little or no change in value.  Different types of property within the same neighborhood may show different value changes.  There are numerous factors to be considered in each property, which will cause value changes to differ.  Some of the factors that can affect value are location, condition, size, quality of construction, the number of baths, basement finish, garages, and many others.
How do I schedule a review of my property?
Please use the Assessor's Request for Review document under Resources in the right column.  You can complete this form on-line and submit by e-mail or print and mail in.
What factors affect my property taxes?

There are a number of items that affect your property taxes.  The following are those that traditionally have had the largest impacts:

  • Changes to the tax levy (amount of money requested by taxing jurisdictions for operations) made by the city, county, school district or special taxing districts.
  • Changes to the market value estimate of your property.
  • Changes in the market values for the area or a particular type of property.
  • Legislative changes to the property classification rates, state aid formulas and other tax laws.
  • Legislative unfunded mandates (usually seen as an increase in local government tax levy).
  • New taxes approved by referendum.
How are my Real Estate taxes determined?

Taxing jurisdictions such as the county, schools, cities, and townships, adopt their levy after public hearings.  The levies are certified to the County Auditor who then calculates the tax rates.  The taxes you pay are proportionate to your estimated market value and use classification on your property as observed by the Assessor's Office.

I haven't changed anything. Why do you have to come to my house?
State statute requires the assessor to physically review 20% of all property each year.  This results in the assessor visiting your neighborhood every five years.  The assessor is verifying that the currently existing information is accurate, and checking for any changes that may have been made to the property.  Having accurate property information is critical when valuing and classifying property and contributes to a fair and equitable assessment for everybody.
What will happen to my Estimated Market Value if I improve my property?
Generally speaking, improvements that increase the market value of a property will increase the assessor's Estimated Market Value.
Why is the tax amount for the current year on my tax statement different than what was shown on the Notice of Proposed Taxes that I received in November?
The Notice of Proposed Tax or Truth in Taxation (TNT) is an estimate.  They may differ for any of the following reasons:
  • Referendums could have passed, increasing your tax.
  • Property owners may have filed for homestead classification after the Notice of Proposed Taxes were mailed and before the current year taxes were calculated.
  • Taxing jurisdictions may have lowered their tax levy.  Although not a tax, special assessments and other charges may be billed on the tax statement.  These charges do not appear on the Notice of Proposed Taxes.
Who determines my property tax?
There are three entities that have a role in determining your property tax.  The State Legislature establishes property classes and class rates, the state determines levels of state aide to local units of government, sets the amount of homestead credit, sets the State Tax Rate and mandates unfunded programs to local government.  Local units of government determine their tax levy amount.  The assessor assigns each property a market value estimate and property use classification as provided by state statute.  The property tax is the result of actions taken by all three entities (the State Legislature, Local Governments and the assessor).
How do I get a copy of my property tax statement or assessment/value notice?
Go to www.co.douglas.mn.us and click on Parcel Info Lookup or call the Auditor/Treasurer's Office for a copy of your tax statement (320-762-3077) or call the Assessor's Office for a copy of your value notice (320-762-3884).
How is market value estimated?
The assessor visits your property to record the existence and character of improvements that contribute to its market value.  The assessor collects sales information on all types of property, and studies characteristics such as location, size of the parcel, improvements and amenities that affect what buyers would pay for your property.  Local sales will impact local values.  The assessor uses actual sales of similar properties to estimate what buyers would pay for your property.  (A single sale does not make a market.)
What type of payment do you accept?
Cash or check (no credit or debit cards).
My permit was already closed, why do you need to look at my property again?
The "building inspector" ensures that everything was completed to code and signs off on permits.  The "assessor" must review the property to see if there was an impact to the property value due to the changes that were made.  If the assessor determines that there is added value, you will see the amount on your following valuation notice, which is mailed in or around March each year.  The added value is listed under "Value of new Improvements" on that notice.
Why isn't my name showing on the present tax statement?
Many properties have multiple taxpayers associated to them.  The primary taxpayer's information is what is printed on the tax statement.
Who qualifies for Homestead?
To qualify for the homestead classification, you must:
  • occupy the property as your primary residence
  • be one of the owners of the property or a relative
  • be a Minnesota resident - items that must reflect the address of the homestead are voter registration, driver's licenses, income tax forms, and vehicle registration.
Who owns a property?
Douglas County does not verify ownership of properties.  We will verify who we have as the most current taxpayer.
Can my Estimated Market Value change even if the assessor has not been inside my property?
Yes.  The assessor keeps records on the physical characteristics of each property in the County.  Even though the assessor may have been unable to go through your property, the Estimated Market Value will still be reviewed annually based on the existing records and/or sales of similar property.
How can I tell what city or township my property is in from my PIN?
The first two numbers indicate the jurisdiction (city or township) your property is located in.  Following is the key:

03 - Alexandria Township
06 - Belle River Township
09 - Brandon Township
12 - Carlos Township
15 - Evansville Township
18 - Holmes City Township
21 - Hudson Township
24 - Ida Township
27 - LaGrand Township
30 - Lake Mary Township
33 - Leaf Valley Township
36 - Lund Township
39 - Millerville Township
42 - Miltona Township
45 - Moe Township
48 - Orange Township
51 - Osakis Township
54 - Solem Township
57 - Spruce Hill Township
60 - Urness Township

63 - Alexandria City
66 - Brandon City
69 - Carlos City
72 - Evansville City
75 - Forada City
78 - Garfield City
81 - Kensington City
84 - Millerville City
87 - Miltona City
90 - Nelson City
93 - Osakis City
How can I judge the accuracy and fairness of my value and classification?
The assessor who estimates the value and classifies your property should be your first contact if you have questions or want more information.  If you are not sure who your assessor is, you can contact us by using the Contact information in the right column of this page.  Your assessor can review your parcel records with you, review local sales activity, and general market trends.
What is Estimated Market Value (EMV)?
It is the most probable price, as of a specified date, in cash, or in terms equivalent to cash, or in other precisely revealed terms, for which the specified property rights should sell after a reasonable exposure in a competitive market under all conditions requisite to fair sale, with the buyer and seller each acting prudently, knowledgeably, and for all self-interest, and assuming that neither is under undue duress.  In summary, market value is the price that would tend to prevail under typical, normal, competitive open market conditions.
What is a Property Identification Number (PIN)?
It is a unique number assigned to each piece of real estate.  The PIN, also knows as Parcel Number or Parcel Identification Number, is printed on the Property Tax Statement, the Valuation Notice, Proposed Tax Statement, and various other documents related to real estate taxation or assessment.
I have had fire or storm damage to my house. Should I contact the assessor's office?
Yes, however depending on the extent of the damage and when it is repaired, you may or may not see a value/tax change.  (Remember, the assessment is based "as of January 2" of each year.)
Where is the Assessor's Office?
The Assessor's Office is located on the second floor of the Douglas County Courthouse at 305 8th Ave West, Alexandria, MN  56308 or call 320-762-3884 or e-mail assessors.office@co.douglas.mn.us
What if I have trouble paying my taxes? Is there a program to help me?
Minnesota has two property tax refund programs for homeowners; the regular property tax refund and the special property tax refund.  You may be eligible for one or both, depending on your income and the size of your property tax bill.
  1. The regular property tax refund, sometimes called the "circuit breaker" is based on your household income and the amount of property tax you pay on your principal place of residence.
  2. The special or "targeting" property tax refund requires your net property tax to have increased by at least 12% and $100.  The special property tax refund is not based on income.
I have an escrow account. Why do I get a tax statement?
Tax statements are sent to the taxpayer on record.  If an escrow company has requested your parcel information and indicated they will be paying the taxes, you will notice an Escrow ID on the payment stubs.
Why does the Assessor's Office exist?
In Minnesota, property taxes provide most of the funding for local government services.  Each property's share of the property tax burden is determined according to its VALUE and USE.  The Assessor's Office collects, tabulates and updates property data annually for further county calculations.  The dollar amount required to cover operating expenses of local governments is levied by each township, city, school district or county to pay for services required by local citizens.  This translates into an annual property tax bill due and payable for each individual property.