RD619 - Review of the Requirement of Certification and Ongoing Recertification of Individuals Conducting Local Property Tax Assessments – November 1, 2022

Executive Summary:

Item 275 (D) of the 2022 Appropriation Act directed the Department of Taxation ("the Department") to study and develop a proposal requiring state certification and ongoing recertification for all individuals who conduct local real property general assessments receive state certification and ongoing recertification to ensure more effective, consistent, and equitable assessments across all jurisdictions in the Commonwealth.

Virginia Tax consulted with the Virginia Association of Assessing Officers (VAAO), the Commissioners of the Revenue Association (CoRVA), the Virginia Municipal League (VML), and the Virginia Association of Counties (VACO). Additional participating stakeholders included two past presidents of the International of Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO), individual Staff Assessors, and Commissioners of the Revenue of Virginia from across the Commonwealth (Appendix 3).

Virginia Tax researched relevant sections of the Code of Virginia, Assessment Sales Ratio Studies of locality reassessment performance, IAAO Standards, the IAAO nationwide assessor certification and qualification study (United States Roll-Cal/, 2022 Edition), and the Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice 2020-2021 (USPAP). We presented the findings to stakeholders through virtual meetings, conference calls, and email correspondence. After conducting a comprehensive survey, we relied upon the stakeholder responses to draft the options found in this report.

The legislation required Virginia Tax to submit its report to the Virginia General Assembly by November 1, 2022. Participants were provided a draft of the report to review and offer further comments.


Virginia law provides that a general reassessment shall be performed by a professional assessor appointed by the governing body who is either an employee qualified by Virginia Tax or an independent contractor holding a valid certification issued by the Department. Virginia Tax is in the process of updating the certification procedures for contract assessors.

In most cases, localities employing Assessors are not qualifying candidates through Virginia Tax prior to their appointment. Generally, localities are self-governing local assessor qualifying standards. Many localities do have robust training programs and career development paths that produce qualified assessment professionals resulting in successful general reassessments. Virginia Tax is committed to improving communication with localities to make them aware of the qualification standards required for staff assessors by the Virginia Code.

Virginia is one of only four states that does not require some form of formal certification for all assessors. A comprehensive survey of stakeholders found a consensus that assessors need a high level of training and education to deliver an accurate, uniform and equitable reassessment. The results of a general reassessment have a significant impact on locality funding sources including the taxable value of public service corporation properties and the school funding formula.

A majority of stakeholders expressed a need for an enhanced assessor certification process. While stakeholders provided guidance on varied paths to certification, consensus was that a Virginia-specific basic training class for assessors was foundational to future success. Stakeholders emphasized the importance of not adding additional financial burden to localities through increased mandated regulatory requirements for assessors.

Reassessment performance generally is within the standards promulgated by the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) for the assessment level. Professional staff assessors, appointed in 40 localities in Virginia, tend to deliver reassessments with a higher level of uniformity and equity based on IAAO Standards. Contract assessors, used in 80 localities, typically perform general reassessments in more rural localities with less homogeneous real property inventories and where higher variances in statistical measures would be expected. The limited pool of qualified contract assessors is a concern for future general reassessment cycles.

Based on stakeholder input, an updated assessor certification process, with a Virginia-specific training course, continuing education, and with periodic recertification included, would ensure more effective, consistent, and equitable assessments across all jurisdictions in the Commonwealth. Many localities with professional staff assessors have successful career development programs which can be further studied and modeled when developing the qualifying standards of the certification process.

However, certification requirements should not place a further burden on localities and not further diminish the limited pool of certified contract assessors and professional staff assessors. A certification program should result in a clear career path for both staff and contract appraisers to meet the qualifying standards required to be a certified assessor.


Virginia Tax recognizes the diverse general reassessment needs localities face when appointing Professional Assessors:

Professional Contract Assessors - 80 of 133 (60%) localities
Professional Staff Assessors - 40 localities (30%)
Commissioner of the Revenue Staff Assessor-13 localities (10%)

Any adopted path to certification must balance the need for qualified Professional Assessors with the unique needs of individual localities. The options included herein enhance certification standards by initiating a collaboration between the Virginia Tax, the Commissioners of the Revenue Association and the Virginia Association of Assessing Officers.

The options include a provision to update the existing basic training manual (§ 58.1-206) which will be used in the Basic Training for Virginia Real Estate Assessors course jointly developed by Virginia Tax and the Commissioners of the Revenue Association. This course could be dually offered by CoRVA as part of the organization's Career Development Training and by Virginia Tax as a prerequisite for contractor certification and continuing education.

Virginia Tax will continue to collaborate the Commissioners of the Revenue Association (CoRVA) and the Virginia Association of Assessing Officers (VAAO) and consult with members from the Virginia Municipal League (VML), the Virginia Association of Counties (VACO}, to further study the education, training, and professional development programs currently used by localities to successfully train assessors, appraisers, and staff. Findings will be implemented into the final certification and qualification standards.

Virginia Tax will collaborate with the Commissioners of the Revenue Association (CoRVA) and the Virginia Association of Assessing Officers (VAAO) to update the current standards and develop further specific qualifications that may be required for certification.

The options included herein address five specific items:

1. Requires certification by Virginia Tax for all professional assessors, both contractors and employees. The standards allow staff assessors two-years from the date of appointment to obtain certification.

2. Requires certification by Virginia Tax for all contract appraisers and certification by the locality for all staff appraisers.

3. Requires certification by Virginia Tax of all Project Managers and Supervisors working with a contractor.

4. Requires periodic recertification and continuing education.

5. Requires contract assessors to provide Virginia Tax with specific reports and documentation throughout the general reassessment process to assist localities in monitoring performance standards.