Mobile home taxes jumpStutsman County residents who live in older double wide mobile homes got a surprise when they opened their 2013 tax statement this month. Changes in the formula used to calculate values used to determine taxes resulted in tax increases for many people.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Stutsman County residents who live in older double wide mobile homes got a surprise when they opened their 2013 tax statement this month. Changes in the formula used to calculate values used to determine taxes resulted in tax increases for many people.
“Who wouldn’t be upset?” said Ronald Cumber of rural Pingree “The taxes on my trailer more than doubled. They went up 233 percent.”
Cumber lives in a double wide mobile home built in 1988. He said his complaint to the Stutsman County tax director went unanswered.
“I didn’t get nowhere,” he said. “They told me that’s what it’s worth in the oil field.”
Dustin Bakken, Stutsman County tax director, said the change in the formula represents the values of mobile homes selling in Stutsman County.
“Some people were hit pretty hard,” he said. “Some of the influence is the tight housing market and the oil field. People will come east to buy a mobile home and move it west.”
The formula used to calculate the value of a mobile home takes into account its size, the estimated cost per square foot and its age.
“The state takes all mobile home sales in the state and comes up with a guideline of value per square foot,” Bakken said. “We compare that to the local sales and figure out a local value per square foot.”
Stutsman County mobile home taxes for 2013 are $48 per square foot for single wide and $68 per square foot for double wide. In the 2012 tax year they were $43 per square foot for single wide and $51 per square foot for double wide.
“The second part of the equation is the depreciation table,” Bakken said.
Single wide mobile homes depreciate about 5 percent per year for 14 years and then 1 percent per year thereafter to a minimum of 15 percent of calculated value.
Double wide mobile homes depreciate about 4.5 percent per year for 14 years and then remain at 35 percent of value for the rest of the life of the mobile homes.
“The older double wides were hit the hardest,” Bakken said. “We’re following the Century Code in valuing them. We have the measurements that show we’re right on.”
Bakken said the sales ratio information verifies the values are correct.
Sales ratio compares the value used for taxes to recent sales prices of property. In 2012, four single wide and four double wide mobile homes sold. Comparing the sale price to the calculated value using the 2013 tax formula returned a ratio of 0.99 for single wide and 0.96 for double wide. A ratio of 1.0 would indicate a property sold for the same amount it was valued for taxes.
“The idea is the same as for regular real estate,” said Marcy Dickerson, state supervisor of assessment for the North Dakota Tax Department. “It should start with the full value of the mobile home.”
Dickerson said from there, percentages are applied to determine the taxable value, which is then multiplied by the mill rate to determine taxes.
“We strongly suggest that each tax director look at their own markets to determine the square footage and depreciation rates,” she said.
That has resulted in a variety of rates in the area.
For example, Foster County uses a value of $48 per square foot for single wide and $60 per square foot for double wide. Barnes County uses $39.80 per square foot for single wide and $50.21 for double wide.
For Cumber, the jump in his taxes seems excessive. He is planning to get on the agenda of the Stutsman County Commission and ask that it address the situation.
“It’s not that I can’t afford it,” he said. “But they should treat everyone the same. Either raise everyone’s taxes by 233 percent or lower mine.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org