Assessors & Iowa Revenue Department

County and city assessors are not employees of the State or of the Iowa Department of Revenue.

By Numbers
  • Counties: Each of Iowa’s 99 counties has one assessor.
  • Cities: Eight Iowa cities have their own assessors. Any city with a population of more than 10,000 people may elect to have its own assessor.

An assessor’s primary duty is to assess all real property, which includes residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural. The Iowa Department of Revenue assesses public utilities and railroads.

Assessors do not:
  • Calculate taxes
  • Collect taxes
  • Determine the tax rate

How to Become an Assessor
County assessors are appointed by a conference board composed of the county board of supervisors, the mayors of all incorporated cities, and a board member from each school district who lives in the assessor’s jurisdiction.

City assessors are appointed by a conference board composed of the county board of supervisors, members of the city council, and all members of each school board.

Assessors are appointed to six-year terms. To be eligible, they must have a high school diploma or GED and pass an examination administered by the Iowa Department of Revenue. To be reappointed, they must successfully complete a continuing education program equal to 150 hours of classroom instruction during their six-year terms.

How to Value Property
Residential, commercial, and industrial real estate is assessed at 100% of market value.

The assessor must determine the fair market value of the property. To do this, the assessor generally uses three approaches.
  • Cost Approach: Estimate how much money at current labor and material prices it would take to replace the property with one similar to it. This is useful when no sales of comparable properties exist.
  • Income Approach: If the property produces income, such as with an apartment or office building, estimate its ability to produce income.
  • Market Approach: Find properties sold recently that are comparable to yours. Analyze sales of similar properties that were recently sold. Determine the most probable sales price of the property being appraised.

Agricultural real estate is assessed at 100% of productivity and net earning capacity value.

The assessor considers the productivity and net earning capacity of the property. Agricultural income as reflected by production, prices, expenses, and various local conditions is taken into account.

Iowa Department of Revenue Role
The Iowa Department of Revenue assists local governments in making property tax assessments fair and in compliance with the law. It does not collect or use property taxes.
  • It administers an examination, which would-be assessors and deputy assessors must pass.
  • It issues equalization orders to county auditors every two years for classes of property.
  • It provides technical assistance and educational programs for assessors and members of boards of review.
  • It issues regulations on assessors, conference boards, and boards of review.
  • It assesses all utility and railroad properties.
  • It administers credits and exemptions to property owners.
  • It has general supervisory authority over the operation of the assessors offices and the boards of review.