PO Box 598 Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360

What is Equalization?

Iowa law requires assessments to be within 95% to 105% of market value or the Iowa Department of Revenue will issue an equalization order that forces an across-the-board increase, rather than on individual properties. 

Equalization helps maintain equitable assessments among classes of property and among assessing jurisdictions. That contributes to a more fair distribution of the tax burden and state aid, such as aid to schools. 

The Iowa Department of Revenue compares county assessors' abstracts to a “sales assessment ratio study." If the assessment (by property class) is 5 percent or more above or below the sales ratio study, the department can increase or decrease the assessment. 

Equalization occurs on an entire class of property, not on individual property. So local boards of review can only remove the amount of the increase related to the equalization if a property owner is successful upon appeal.