Tax Assessor Training Programs and Requirements

Tax assessors are responsible for the valuation of blocks or groups of real estate for property tax purposes. They work in a specific area to ensure knowledge of local tax codes and the environmental and economic concerns that impact property value in that area. Assessors perform a similar function and get training similar to that of appraisers, who assess the immediate value of an individual property, typically for reasons of sale, purchase or refinance.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), specific requirements for becoming a tax assessor vary by jurisdiction (www.bls.gov). In general, formal education beyond high school is required for tax assessors. Coursework in real estate, math, accounting and economics is helpful.

The specific skills a tax assessor needs include knowledge of jurisdictional property tax codes and the ability to make judgments based on a set of official criteria. Assessors should get their training through programs that are approved by the tax assessor's office of the city or state they wish to work in. The BLS states that these programs might be aimed at appraisers, but they will give tax assessors necessary training in the basics of valuing real property. Those interested in a tax assessing career must be able to work independently and have good analytical, research, writing and communication skills.

Formal Education

Because requirements for tax assessors vary widely by state, formal education requirements for the field may not apply in all cases. An associate degree may be sufficient for some tax assessors, but the BLS notes that many have a bachelor's degree in a business specialization. While individuals pursuing degrees in business, accounting and economics may not initially think of jobs in tax assessment, these programs often provide a suitable background for work in the field.

Bachelor of Business Administration

Business training programs typically integrate aspects of accounting, finance and economics. Some programs offer real estate courses in which students learn about general real estate principles, property taxation and estate laws and regulations.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

Accounting majors often take classes in business law, applied economics, auditing, finance and government accounting. Additionally, they gain skills in computers, advanced mathematics and performance measurement and analysis.

Bachelor of Science in Economics

Individuals pursuing an economics degree learn about business, political economy, financial analysis, price theories, financial markets and real estate investments. They also study advanced math and applied statistics as they relate to economic issues.

Job Experience

According to the BLS, assessors usually begin their careers by working with an assessor's office that can provide training. These training offices are usually found in larger municipalities and state offices. Additionally, tax assessors often gain relevant knowledge by working in real estate or property revaluations and appraising.

Licenses and Certifications

Though not all states require tax assessors to be licensed, the BLS states that most jurisdictions have some official requirements for individuals interested in becoming tax assessors. Licensure typically requires attendance of training courses on case studies and topics such as tax base calculation, market comparisons and assessment records maintenance. Upon completion, applicants generally take an exam. Usually, on-the-job tax assessor training is also required in order to earn the credential. Continuing education coursework is typically required to maintain licensure, but specifics vary by state.

Voluntary certifications are available for members of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO), an organization that many states work with for assessor training (www.iaao.org). The IAAO offers varying levels of certification, and individuals must generally meet experience and education requirements and pass an exam. They must also complete a project on a commercial and residential property. Continuing education is required to maintain the validity of these credentials.

Workshops and Seminars

Tax assessor seminars and conferences are often sponsored by industry organizations like the IAAO. Topics can range from professional ethics to assessment appeals, a legal dispute process in which tax assessors often participate. At these functions, tax assessors can network, listen to guest speakers or participate in workshops on such topics as mass assessment computer systems.

Additional Professional Development

For reference material, tax assessors can procure assessment manuals and handbooks, which provide necessary information regarding current local or state taxes. Additionally, they can attend local chapter meetings of national assessor organizations. Tax assessors wishing to develop professionally can look into the various levels of professional designation certified by the IAAO, including the Assessment Administration Specialist (AAS), Certified Assessment Evaluator (CAE), Cadastral Mapping Specialist (CMS), Personal Property Specialist (PPS) and Residential Evaluation Specialist (RES).

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