The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently ruled that local property tax assessors cannot require an interior “search” of a homeowner’s property as a precondition to challenging an assessment before the local Board of Review or in the Circuit Court. In Milewski v. Town of Dover, the plaintiffs wished to challenge an increased revaluation of their property. The Town claimed that the statutes required the plaintiffs to allow an inspection of the interior of their property in order to challenge the assessment. The plaintiffs refused, and the assessor raised the valuation of their home while lowering the assessments of other houses in their subdivision. The Court held that the denial of the tax payers’ challenge violated their due process rights under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution as well as the Wisconsin Constitution. While homeowners must still follow all of the procedural requirements for challenging assessments, this ruling is significant because now home owners can deny access to the interior of their properties to local property tax assessors and still preserve their right to challenge the assessment.
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