Property Tax Functions
In the 1836 legislation that created the Office of the Comptroller, many of the duties that were prescribed to the Comptroller were related to ensuring fair and equitable administration of property taxes.
Today, the Comptroller’s Office continues to fulfill its mission of making government work better by carrying out critical property tax functions for Tennessee government through three divisions:
The Division of Property Assessments provides assistance, expertise, and oversight to the state’s property assessors and ensures effective administration of Tennessee’s property tax. The division also:
- Assists in reappraisal programs;
- Provides technological services; and
- Administers the Tax Relief Program.
The division assists counties with reappraisal programs. Reappraisal occurs in each county on a four-year, five-year, or six-year cycle, which includes an on-site visual review of each parcel of real property. Between reappraisals, the division conducts ratio studies to determine the overall level of appraisal within each county.
State law provides for property tax relief for low-income elderly, disabled, and disabled veteran homeowners or their surviving spouses. Tax Relief is a state program funded by appropriations authorized by the General Assembly. Tax collecting officials, including county trustees, receive applications from taxpayers who may qualify. The Division of Property Assessments administers the program.
The Division of Property Assessments administers the Assessment Certification and Education Program for assessors and their staff.
IMPACT Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal System
Property tax assessments made by county assessors are maintained on state computer systems for 84 of Tennessee’s counties. These centrally managed systems provide consistency and a sound methodology of appraisal for property tax purposes, including tax billing, at a reasonable cost to local governments. Select parcel data is available online.
The division's Geographic Services department uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to assist the division's field staff and local assessors of property in daily operations. Geographic Services serves as the liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Local Redistricting Data Program. Using census data, the department produces local maps and publishes county commission district and voting precinct maps.
The Geographic Services department assists Tennessee’s counties with maintenance of property ownership maps.
Property Assessments Leadership
The State Board of Equalization (SBOE) consists of the Governor, Commissioner of Revenue, Comptroller of the Treasury, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, and two appointees of the Governor. The SBOE provides a legal and quasi-judicial review of property tax assessments, exemptions, and tax incentive programs.
The SBOE’s key responsibilities include:
• Establishing rules, policies, manuals, and guidelines for property tax assessments on the basis of studies and recommendations by SBOE staff and the Division of Property Assessments;
• Administering property tax appeal hearings in conjunction with the Assessment Appeals Commission and the administrative law judges in the Secretary of State’s office;
• Reviewing and rendering property tax exemption determinations for religious, charitable, scientific, and nonprofit educational institutions; and
• Ensuring local government compliance with the laws governing certified tax rates and tax incentive programs (TIF/PILOT).
State Board of Equalization Leadership
The Office of State Assessed Properties conducts annual appraisals, assessments, and audits of public utility and transportation properties. These assessments are certified to counties, cities, and other taxing jurisdictions for billing and collection of property taxes.
The office appraises:
- Commercial airlines and airfreight companies holding a common carrier certificate;
- Barge line companies;
- Privately-owned electric, electric cooperative, and gas companies;
- Interstate natural gas and products pipeline companies;
- Power companies, including hydroelectric, steam, and atomic power, and green sources that produce electricity, such as geothermal, hydrogen, solar and wind companies;
- Private railcar and railroad companies;
- Motor bus and motor carrier companies;
- Telephone companies, including cellular and wireless, telephone cooperative, and wireless management companies; and
- Water and sewer companies regulated by the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.
State Assessed Properties Leadership