Director of Equalization
The county Director of Equalization is responsible for confirming that all property in the county is accounted for on the tax list. They are also responsible to guarantee these properties are all assessed in an equal and uniform manner. Only when the assessments of the property are fair and equal can the tax burden be distributed fair and equal.
The following are tools available by the Property Tax Division to support the efforts of our county officials.
Ag Land Classification
For land to be classified as agricultural, it must meet the following criteria:
- The primary and main use of the land must be devoted to agricultural pursuits, such as the harvesting of crops or the raising of livestock.
- The land must also meet either an acreage requirement or a minimum income.
To better understand the requirements, please review the ag land classification flowchart here.
Ag Productivity Information
The Department contracts with South Dakota State University who compiles data from United Sates Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistic Services (USDA/NASS). USDA/NASS surveys farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses to compile statistics for each county.
The Department uses the statistics to compile an 8-Year Olympic average to determine the gross revenue per acre. The gross revenue per acre is then entered into the productivity formula to determine the average value per acre. The Department sends each county their top dollar valuation for cropland and non-cropland, along with the formula calculations and background information provided by SDSU. Counties apply these values according to the soil survey. For more information on the agricultural land productivity formula see the Agricultural Land Productivity Tax Fact (PDF).
Agriculture land in the state of South Dakota is assessed based on the system defined in SDCL 10-6-127. The director of equalization is statutorily authorized to adjust the assessments based on the factors in SDCL 10-6-131. Any adjustment is discretionary with the director of equalization and must be quantified, qualified and documented for the life of the adjustment.
After reviewing each of the ag adjustments received by the county, the director of equalization is responsible for completing and submitting the County Ag Land Adjustment Summary to the Department of Revenue with the county’s Intentions Bundle. This summary is intended to be a high-level overview of how the county will consistently address the eight factors contained within SDCL 10-6-131.
Individuals have the right ensure their property is being assessed at no more than market value, as well as assessed equitably in relationship to other properties. Land owners who have questions on the assessed value of their land are asked to first speak with the county director of equalization in the county where the property is located. If the land owner still disagrees with the total value of the property, they may submit an appeal to their local board of equalization. Land owners may appeal the following:
For more information, see the Appeal Process Guide for the Property Owner (PDF) or the Appeal Process Guide for Boards of Equalization (PDF).
Property Exempt Programs
According to South Dakota’s Constitution, all real property is taxable, unless it is owned by Federal, State, County or Municipal entities, or by certain entities that meet ownership and usage requirements. These entities must make annual application for property tax exempt status with the County Director of Equalization for approval of the Board of County Commissioners. The allowable exemptions are listed below. Our Department and state officials understand that many South Dakotans live on fixed incomes and may have difficulty meeting their tax obligations. The available property tax relief programs, the necessary eligibility requirements for each, and how to apply are listed below.
Property Tax Exempt Status
What the Program Does
Property owners who qualify as one of the entities listed below may receive a full or partial property tax exemption.
To Be Eligible
Organizations must have the IRS exemption prior to making application to the county. The entity requesting the exemption must select one of the following and provide the appropriate IRS tax exemption numbers.
- Religious Exemption SDCL 10-4-9
- Charitable Exemption SDCL 10-4-9.1
- Benevolent Exemption SDCL 10-4-9.2
- Non-Profit Health Care SDCL 10-4-9.3
- Education Exemption SDCL 10-4-13
- Congregate Housing SDCL 10-4-9.4
- Local Industrial Development Corporation SDCL 5-14-23
- Multi-tenant Business Incubator
Assessment Freeze for Senior & Disabled Citizens
What the Program Does
Reduces the assessed value of the homeowner’s property. Property is the house, garage and the lot upon which it sits or one acre, whichever is less.
To Be Eligible
- The property owner must be 65 years of age or older OR disabled (as defined by the Social Security Act).
- The property owner must own the home or retain a life estate in the property.
- Un-remarried widow/widowers of persons previously qualified may still qualify in some circumstances.
- Have resided for at least 200 days of the previous calendar year in the single-family dwelling
- Income and property value limits apply.
Applications are available online or at any county treasurer's office beginning in January of each year. Applications must be submitted annually to your county treasurer on or before April 1st. For more information, see the Freeze on Assessments: Dwellings of Disabled and Senior Citizens Brochure (PDF).
Property Tax Exemption for Paraplegic Veterans
What the Program Does
Exempts the property from all property taxes. Property is the house, garage and the lot upon which it sits or one acre, whichever is less.
To Be Eligible
- The property must be owned by a paraplegic veteran, a veteran with loss or loss of use of both lower extremities, or the un-remarried widow/widower of such veteran.
- The property must be specifically designed for wheelchair use within the structure.
Applications are available online or at any county courthouse. Applications must be submitted to the county assessor at the county in which the property is located. Download the Property Tax Exemption for Paraplegic Veterans Brochure (PDF) to learn more.
Property Tax Reduction for Disabled Veterans
What the Program Does
Exempts up to $150,000 of the assessed value for qualifying property. (The property subject to this exemption is the same property eligible for the owner-occupied classification.)
To Be Eligible
- The property must be owned and occupied by a disabled veteran or an un-remarried surviving spouse.
- The veteran must be rated as permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability.
Application are available at the county courthouse or from the Property Tax Division. Applications must be submitted to the county assessor’s office at the county in which the property is located. Learn more in our Guide to South Dakota’s Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption Program (PDF).
Sales / Ratio Portal
Directors of equalization are required to transmit real estate transfers to the department on the following time periods:
|Transfer Filed in Register of Deeds During the Month(s) of:
|Submit to Department of Revenue on or Before:
|November, December, January, February, March, April
For manufactured homes, the transfer is verified and then the data transmitted to the Department within 30 days after receipt.
The Department operates a statewide property sale search which allow county officials to login and find the history of a parcel of property. For instruction on how to use the website please refer to the web based sales ratio program public manual (PDF).
The Department’s current statewide property sale search portal will be going offline on February 1, 2024. Static data tables will be available in the Property Tax Transparency Portal under the report tab while the Department continues development on the new online solution.
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Information
Tax Increment Financing is a means of financing public improvements in a defined geographic area, known as a tax increment financing district, or TIF district. In South Dakota, a TIF district can be created by either a municipality or county.
TIF has become an increasingly popular tool for communities looking to upgrade existing infrastructure or as a means of incentivizing new investments in infrastructure for economic development. As of July 1, 2018, South Dakota state law authorizes four classifications for TIF districts: Local, Industrial, Economic Development, and Affordable Housing. TIF district classification is a function of the state-aid to education formula and determines how a given TIF district impacts school funding in South Dakota. The Department has put together some guidelines for the creation, classification and annual certification of Tax Increment Financing and Tax Increment Districts. For more information please see the following Guidelines:
- Tax Increment Financing Annual Report (PDF)
- Tax Increment Financing Pre-Submission Form (PDF)
- SDCL Chapter 11-9
The property tax discretionary formula is a tax incentive tool to help promote economic development in South Dakota. The discretionary formula gives a tax break on applicable new structures for a maximum of five or seven years, depending on the structure type. (SDCL 10-6-137 and 10-6-137.1)
For more information on the discretionary formula, please refer to our Discretionary Formula Tax Fact (PDF).
The following is a list of reports that need to be included when submitting the abstract to the Department. The abstract and enclosures need to reach the Property Tax Division no later than the third Monday in May. SDCL 10-3-36
- Abstract Cover
- Abstract Certificate of Director of Equalization
- Abstract Valuation Worksheet
- Abstract – total for county
- Abstract – for each taxing jurisdiction
- Non-Factored Growth – total for county
- Factored Growth – total for county
- Growth – for each taxing jurisdiction (factored)
- Discretionary formula values by School District (factored)
- Valuation and Tax Reductions from Various Tax Relief Programs
- Mobile Home Title Report
- Additional letters / notes explaining any unusual conditions or circumstances reflected in the assessment or action taken by the board or any appeals that were granted or disallowed, as applicable.
Below are links to the administrative rules pertaining to adjustments to both agricultural land and non-agricultural properties. These rules have to do with the director of equalization being permitted to make adjustments and the documentation needed for the Department to determine your level of assessment. Learn more in the 2020 Intentions and Documentation Memo (PDF).
Administrative Rules for Assessment
- 64:04:01:30.01 Director of equalization permitted to make adjustments to values when using productivity valuation to establish value.
- 64:04:01:31 Establishing equalization factor.
- 64:04:01:31.01 Department to review adjustments for consideration in determining equalization factor.
The cover worksheet is used for summarizing changes made for the current assessment year. If the changes are county wide, Directors of Equalization may summarize on one sheet. If the county is making different adjustments in different areas (raising houses in City A only, lowering lots in City B, etc.) use a separate sheet for each area.
Note: Current state law does not allow adjustments for conservation easements or actual use. The Office of Hearing Examiners have agreed with this opinion in an appeal from Yankton County. As such, DOR will not be approving any adjustments for conservation easements or actual use until the legislature specifically authorizes this type of adjustment.
Growth is the value added to the taxable base of district due to the reasons listed below:
Type of Growth
- Does Constitute Growth: Mobile homes going on real estate is growth
- Does Not Constitute Growth: Change in value due to reassessment only
- Does Constitute Growth: Something actually is done in the previous year to an existing structure / property (ex. garage added; finished a basement)
- Does Not Constitute Growth: Increase of value of original structure due to the improvement (Ex. because of the new bedroom and change in market conditions, you re-assess the property and the total increase is $20,000. You differentiate what part of the $20,000 is because of the new bedroom and what is reassessment. Only the value increase from the new bedroom is growth. Assessor decides to add to assessment decks, cement driveways and underground sprinklers (Property has not been changed, assessments were incorrect in prior years)
- Does Constitute Growth: Something is built in previous year or omitted property / valuation from current year
- Does Not Constitute Growth: If ag building, the part that is exempt is not growth, Omitted property / valuation other than current year
Change in Use
- Does Constitute Growth: Ag land platted to NA lot (a plat is actually filed), Ag building no longer exempt, Exempt to non-exempt
- Does Not Constitute Growth: Reassessment of school leased land
Growth may be used only for the municipality/township. County, school districts and other districts have NO CHANGE. The taxing district may increase the revenue payable from value resulting from property annexed from another entity of government. Show “+” growth where the value is going, show a “-“ growth where the value is leaving. This also pertains to other districts, such as road, fire, ambulance, etc. (going out of one fire district and into another).
Dissolution of TIF
Upon dissolution of a tax increment financing district, the increment part of value which has been used to pay off the district bonds can be considered growth.
Removal of Discretionary Formula
Reduction or removal of the discretionary formula in the previous year. For example: Building assessed at $50,000 - Last year only 25% was subject to taxes or $12,500. This year 50% is subject to taxes or $25,000. This constitutes $12,500 of growth.
Removal of Assessment Freeze
Due to a sale or transfer, a property which was eligible for an assessment freeze in the previous year is no longer eligible. For Example: Last year, property was eligible for assessment freeze. The assessed value was $34,000 and was reduced to $27,500 for the assessment freeze. This year the property is no longer eligible for the freeze. This would constitute $6,500 of growth.
- Corporation: can qualify for owner-occupied if the occupant is one of the corporate members and occupies the property on November 1
- Partnership: can qualify for owner-occupied if the occupant is one of the partners and occupies the property on November 1
- Contiguous Property: an owner may have more than one parcel classified as owner-occupied if the additional parcel(s) is contiguous. SDCL 10-13-39.3
- Occupied by Parent of Owner: a property can qualify for owner-occupied if it is occupied by a parent of the owner. SDCL 10-13-39.3
- Occupied by Adult Child with a Disability: a property can qualify for owner-occupied if it is occupied by an adult child with a disability of the owner. SDCL 10-13-39.3
Note: There should not be negative numbers in the growth column, unless it is an annexation or boundary change (see the growth explanations above.) In that case, there should be a corresponding plus in another district. Please footnote any of these changes with an explanation.
SD Land Manual
The South Dakota Land Manual is to serve local officials in the assessment of properties within the State of South Dakota. The manual primarily addresses land valuation, but there are sections that address special circumstances in structures. It should be used in conjunction with the manuals adopted for valuation of the structures and improvements. Various methods and charts are included. In some instances, these charts are guides only, as the assessor may need to develop data and charts that are reflective of local conditions and markets. Included in the South Dakota Real Estate Appraisal Manual are:
- Basic Terms and Definitions
- Land Classification and Identification
- The Assessment Procedure
- Applying the Assessment Procedure to Ag and Non-Ag Land
- Assessor’s Calendar
- South Dakota Administrative Rules
- The Assessment Procedure Guide to Assessment Appeals
- Sales Ratio Guidelines
- Depth Factor Tables
- Rules and Calculations for Lots
New Employee Information
The Department is excited to announce that we have completed some online training opportunities for county officials through our learning management system. Please ask your field auditor about Property Tax 101. As new training opportunities are rolled out we will be letting all of the DOE’s know through email. If you are not signed up, please sign up to receive our emails.
Assessor's Certification Program
The Department's certification program provides instruction to make sure all persons responsible with the duty of assessing or appraising real property for purposes of taxation hold the appropriate certificate. Below you can find links to information about the SD DOR educational program.
First Time Certification
A one-year temporary permit is issued after the Department has received the necessary paperwork which includes:
- State Certification Program Registration Application
- Request for Temporary Certification Form
In order to qualify for recertification, the applicant must:
- Take and pass the required training courses approved for credit by the department.
- Attend the annual school and received a passing grade
- Pass the CAA examination with a minimum score of 80%.
Recertification (1st thru 4th renewal periods)
Within 5 years after certification or your last recertification accessor must:
- Attend three assessors' schools and receive a passing grade on the final exam.
- Attend three department approved conferences, one must be an SDAAO conference.
- Complete 12 approved hours of continued education.
- Complete and pass:
- 1st Renewal Period: Complete both the 15-hour and the 7-hour USPAP course.
- 2nd - 4th Renewal Periods: One USPAP course.
Recertification (5th renewal period +)
Within 5 years after your last recertification assessors must:
- Attend a total of four annual assessors' schools or department-approved conferences.
- At least two must be annual assessors' schools and one SDAAO Conference.
- All Courses, except the IAAO course, shall be pass / fail.
- Complete eight approved continuing education hours. Hours must be approved by Secretary prior to completion.
- During any even number year, the assessor must complete a USPAP course approved by Secretary.
- State Certification Program Registration Application
- Temporary Certificate Request for Director of Equalization
- Temporary Certificate Request for Field Appraiser