Arizona Property Assessment Process

Property tax is one of the three primary tax revenue sources in Arizona. The other two are income tax and sales tax. Property tax is a primary funding source for local school districts, county government operations, fire, and special districts. Income tax and sales tax is collected by the state and redistributed back to the county through legislatively approved formulas. Property tax is collected by the county treasurer and distributed directly back to the local taxing jurisdictions within the county.

The Assessor is responsible for the valuation and classification of all locally assessable real and personal property within the county, including all property located within incorporated towns and cities. The assessor is not responsible for the valuation of gas and electric utility companies, water companies, mining, or railroad properties. The Arizona Department of Revenue is tasked with the valuation and assessment of these properties, many of which cross county lines.

Annually the Assessor must determine the full cash value legal classification and resulting net assessed valuation for all locally assessed and centrally assessed property located within the legal boundaries of each of the 70+ taxing jurisdictions within Cochise County. Each taxing jurisdiction then determines an annual tax rate needed to generate the tax revenue deemed necessary to operate for that year.

The area code on each property assessment file within the Assessor’s Office identifies which of these taxing jurisdictions the property lies within. The area code determines what the appropriate combined tax rate and tax levy will be to the property when the tax bill is calculated by the Treasurer’s Office. The annual property tax bill identifies each taxing jurisdiction levying a tax on the property.

The Assessor is not a taxing jurisdiction. The constitutional duty of the Assessor’s Office is to locate, identify and value at full cash value all taxable property to be compiled in the annual tax roll.

Property Assessment and Valuation Standards

Full Cash Value: the estimate of market value of the land and any improvement to the land derived annually by using standard appraisal methods and techniques. Some properties have specific statutory valuation methods to determine full cash value (agricultural land, qualified shopping centers, golf courses, common areas). Full Cash Value is synonymous with market value. ARS 42-11001

Limited Property Value:  the statutorily calculated value based on the previous years limited property value and the new full cash value). All property taxes are levied against the limited property value. ARS 42-11001

Legal Classification: property use determines the assessment ratio which is then applied to the full cash value and the limited property value to establish the assessed value. Residential property (legal class 3) is assessed at a 10% ratio, vacant land, and agricultural property (legal class 2) is assessed at a 15% ratio, and commercial property (legal class 1) is assessed at 18%. ARS 42-12001-12010 and ARS 42-15001-15010

Notice of Value: annual notification of the full cash value, limited property value and legal classification. The notice is mailed by March 1 and a 60-day appeal period exists from the date of the notice. ARS 42-15101

Notice of Change: supplemental notice in the case of new construction, additions, changes in use or parcel splits occurring up to September 30 of the valuation year. ARS 42-15101

Valuation Year: the calendar year preceding the year in which the taxes are levied. ARS 42-11001

Tax Year: the calendar year in which the taxes are levied. ARS 42-11001

Related Link

Arizona Department of Revenue’s Assessment Procedures Library