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Assessors May Testify Once Again in Minnesota

Recent statutory changes enacted by the Minnesota legislature restored assessors' qualifications to testify in Tax Court proceedings. Tax Court rulings had excluded assessor testimony, based upon statutory language construed to limit assessor valuation to the mass assessment process.

The new language permits assessors to prepare and testify to appraisal reports for properties within their jurisdiction. Since assessors have been testifying in the Tax Court since 1977, the result merely restores the status quo, upset by the decisions excluding testimony over the last year.

One result that may be averted is taxing jurisdictions' wholesale resort to using private fee appraisers in contested cases. Given the costs of such a strategy, there was widespread concern over the ability of cash-strapped counties to hire appraisers across the board in these tough economic times. The amended law handles that concern by endorsing the long-standing practice of admitting assessor testimony in tax court proceedings.

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