The Assessor determines the assessed value effective on January 1st of each year. That value is not taxed until eighteen months later.
Assessed values on all property classes except agricultural are based on market value as determined by "arms length" sales within the county. Assessed value is intended to be within five percent more or five percent less than what the property would sell for on the open market. An arms length sale is between a willing seller and a willing buyer. Auction sales and those between relatives are not considered to be arms length. If assessed values for a class of property are running higher or lower than the five percent margin, an equalization order from the Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance is applied to that class of property.
Agricultural property, except agricultural dwellings (they are treated the same as residential dwellings), is assessed on the basis of productivity and net earning capacity using a five year crop average and capitalized at a rate set by the Legislature. The current rate is seven percent.
The Director of Revenue and Finance issues tentative equalization orders about August 15th and final equalization orders about October 1st, in odd numbered years. The orders are sent to the county auditor who will apply them to the classes of property affected. Not all classes of property get equalization orders and the orders are effective as of January 1st of that year.
After the auditor gets the real estate file, the Director of Revenue and Finance determines the "rollback", according to the Code of Iowa section 441.21, for agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, railroad and utility property. This percentage is applied to all parcels in the real estate file. The new value is the "taxable value".
The auditor receives the budgets from the cities, schools, area colleges, fire districts, townships, and county and sends them into the state, where they are checked and levies are sent back to the auditor. The levies are per $1,000 of valuation. These levies are applied to each parcel.
The Treasurer collects the tax dollars that the levies generate and apportions the dollars received back to the schools, cities, area colleges, townships, fire districts, county and state according to the each budget.