Code of the District of Columbia

§ 47–821. Assessments — General duties of Mayor; appointment of assessors; submission of information by property owners.

(a) The Mayor shall assess all real property, identifying separately the value of land and improvements thereon, and administer and collect the real property tax within the District. The Mayor shall also notify owners of real property of assessments and of appeal procedures. In addition, he shall maintain adequate records relating to the administration of the real property tax in the District, and provide appropriate public information concerning such tax.

(b) The Mayor shall appoint assessors competent to determine values of real property to carry out the provisions of §§ 47-820 to 47-828 and other relevant portions of this chapter. Each person so appointed shall take and subscribe an oath to diligently, faithfully, and impartially assess all real property according to applicable law and regulations and otherwise perform the duties of office.

(c) The Mayor shall assure that information regarding the characteristics of real property, sales and exchanges of all such property, building permits, land use plans, and any other information pertinent to the assessment process shall be made available to the assessors on a timely basis.

(d)(1) The Mayor may require an owner of real property to submit such information relating to the transfers of ownership, construction or reproduction costs, and income or economic benefits derived from such property as in the Mayor’s judgment will assist in the determination of the estimated market value required under this title. If an owner of real property in the District of Columbia fails to submit such information within the time and in the form prescribed, there shall be added to the real property tax levied upon the property in question for the next ensuing tax year the amount of 10% of said tax; provided, that when such information is provided after said time and it is shown that the failure to provide it was due to reasonable cause, no such addition shall be made to the tax.

(2)(A) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter or under a court order, an officer, former officer, employee, or former employee of the District may not open valuation records for public inspection or reveal any information contained in valuation records. For purposes of this section, the term “valuation records” means:

(i) Information regarding private appraisals, actual building costs, rental data, or business volume;

(ii) Income or expense forms; and

(iii) Rent rolls.

(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, the Mayor shall permit a valuation record of a real property to be inspected by:

(i) An owner or authorized agent of the property that is the subject of the valuation record; or

(ii) An official of the District of Columbia executive branch acting in his official capacity, having a right thereto in his official capacity; provided, that no official shall inspect or use, in any review or appeal under this chapter, any information provided to the Mayor under § 47-820(d) [(d) repealed] or this section, other than information provided to the Mayor for the real property under review or appeal; provided further, that nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed to:

(I) Prohibit the use by the official, in reviews or appeals, of statistical data in a form which ensures that the identification of a particular real property shall not be disclosed. The particular valuation records therefrom shall not be divulged or made known; or

(II) Prohibit the official from offering any information of the subject real property provided to defend the assessment of the subject real property in a review or appeal under this chapter.

(C) A violation of this paragraph shall be a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punishable by a fine of not more than the amount set forth in [§ 22-3571.01], by imprisonment for not more than 180 days, or both. All prosecutions under this subparagraph shall be brought in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on information by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia in the name of the District of Columbia.

(e)(1) The Office of the Inspector General shall arrange for an independent audit of the Office of Tax and Revenue for the purposes of examining the District’s management and valuation of commercial real property assessments. The independent audit shall be prepared by an outside firm, such as the International Association of Assessing Officers, that is knowledgeable and experienced in real property appraisal, assessment administration, and real property tax policy, with a demonstrated history of assisting local and state governments in evaluating assessment practices.

(2) The scope of the audit shall include the following:

(A) An evaluation of the commercial real property assessment process;

(B) An evaluation of the organizational structure, workload statistics, performance measures, compensation requirements, staffing levels, training, qualifications, and staff development functions; and

(C) An examination of hiring practices, including whether the human resources rules and regulations to which the Office of the Chief Financial Officer is subject, hinder or enhance the ability of the Office of Tax and Revenue to attract, develop, and retain a well-qualified workforce.

(3) The independent audit shall include recommendations for improving the commercial real property assessment functions within the Office of Tax and Revenue.

(4) The Office of the Inspector General shall submit a complete copy of the 1st audit findings, along with all of the recommendations made by the firm which performed the independent audit, to the Council, the Mayor, and the Chief Financial Officer on or before December 1, 2010. Thereafter, the Office of the Inspector General shall arrange for and submit a report meeting the requirements of this section at least once every 3 years, or sooner upon request of the Council or the Mayor.

(f) The Chief Financial Officer shall submit to the Council, no later than July 1, 2010, an examination of the District’s performance for the last 5 years in commercial real property valuation cases appealed by a taxpayer from the Real Property Tax Appeals Commission for the District of Columbia and decided by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (“Superior Court”) or the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The information to be provided for each case shall include:

(1) Initial valuation of the subject property by the Office of Tax and Revenue;

(2) The Real Property Tax Appeals Commission for the District of Columbia decision on the taxpayer’s appeal;

(3) Valuation of the subject property presented at trial in Superior Court by the Office of the Attorney General on behalf of the Office of Tax and Revenue;

(4) Valuation of the property presented by the taxpayer at trial in Superior Court; and

(5) The final valuation decision ordered by Superior Court or the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.