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Reviewing Daily Recorded Documents
Reviewing recorded property deeds is a function of the Cartography Division. Approximately 3 to 5 business days after recording, the Assessor receives scanned images of documents that affect real property (about 150 daily) from the Recorder. These documents are reviewed to determine their intended action. Most are simple transfers of real property, and some are intended to divide properties.
In Arizona, the system that identifies parcels for taxation purposes - the Assessor Parcel Number or APN - does not legally describe the property. Additionally, The Assessor and the Treasurer use a shortcut property description version for their purposes, but they are not generally sufficient for use as a legal description. Property identification systems were developed to produce a legal description, which prevents a specified parcel from being confused with any other parcel. The three most common land identification systems are Rectangular Survey, Metes and Bounds, and Lot and Block.
In this system, units of land approximately six miles square are identified by Townships and Ranges. Each Township is further divided into 36 Sections each approximately being a mile square. Each section is then further divided into four equal parts of 160 acres, each one called a quarter-section. A quarter-section is then divided into four equal parts of forty acres, each called a quarter-quarter section. A quarter-quarter section is again divided into four equal parts, each consisting of ten acres, called a quarter-quarter-quarter section. A final division is of each ten-acre quarter-quarter-quarter section into four equal parts, each consisting of two and one-half acres. These are usually the smallest unit of division in this system. In describing land using this system, the smallest unit is given first, and the largest unit last.
Metes & Bounds
In a Metes and Bounds property identification system, a description of a tract of land always starts at a given point, which is called the "Point of Beginning" (POB). The outside boundaries of the tract are then followed by using certain surveyed measurements (metes) and reference points (bounds) until returning to the POB. It is important to remember that in using a metes and bounds description, you must always start at the Point of Beginning and 'close' the parcel by returning to the POB.
Lot & Block
The Lot and Block system is perhaps the simplest and the most recently developed of the three main survey systems to understand. It became widely employed in the United States in the 19th century when Americans began to move away from an agrarian society towards an industrialized society and cities began to expand into the surrounding farmland. To sell large tracts of land to buyers, landowners would create a plat map and subdivide the land into a series of smaller lots. This subdivision survey plan was then recorded with an official government record keeper. The officially recorded map became the legal description for all of the lots in the subdivision.
For a parcel's legal description in the Lot and Block system, the description must identify:
- An individual lot
- The block in which the lot is located
- A reference to the subdivision name as dedicated on the plat
- A reference to the cited plat map, by the official Recorder number
- A description of the plat map's place of official recording, i.e. "as recorded in the files of the Pinal County Recorder"
Incorrect or Missing Legal Descriptions
In the process of reviewing documents each day, deeds are found that contain incorrect or missing legal descriptions. If the legal description is incorrect or missing, the property cannot be transferred in the Assessor's records. An attempt is made to contact the Grantee or organization that prepared the document to resolve the deficiency. To correct a document that has incorrect or missing legal description, the original document with the correct information must be re-recorded at the Recorder. Contact the person or organization that prepared the document and have them make the necessary changes and re-record the document(s). Please refer to Guidelines for Re-Recording a Document.
Property Divisions & Combinations
The Cartography Division also reviews documents that divide property. Property divisions of ten acres or less in unincorporated Pinal County require an application and approval from Pinal County Planning and Development Services prior to deeds being recorded. If you are within an incorporated city or town, check with the local Planning and Zoning office prior to recording deeds to insure the property division will meet their requirements. In either case, a deeding action is required to divide property in the Assessor records.
By the Arizona Department of Revenue standards and guidelines, any time property boundaries are changed the Assessor is required to assign new parcel numbers in a future valuation year. This is done so the taxpayer can be notified of the value and given an opportunity to appeal that value. Refer to the Valuation Year Chart (PDF) to determine the valuation year of new or modified parcels. The original owner will receive the tax bill for the parent parcel up to the newly determined valuation year. It is the responsibility of the owner(s) to insure that taxes are paid on their portion of the parent parcel up to the valuation year of the new parcels. This can be done by contacting the original owner to pay your portion of the tax bill, or by making a payment towards the parent parcel at the Treasurer's Office.
All property combinations are done through the Assessor's Office. The Arizona Revised Statues allow taxpayers to combine two or more contiguous properties and have them assessed as one. All property combinations require an application process. There are certain criteria that must be met in order to combine properties in Pinal County. Please refer to the Application to Combine Parcels (PDF) document for further requirements. Property combinations modify property boundaries, therefore the same valuation year requirements described above apply.
New subdivisions are added to the tax rolls using much of the same valuation year criteria as a standard land division. Subdivisions within unincorporated Pinal County are added to the tax roll by applying the Public Report issue date to the Valuation Year Chart. The town or city council approval date is applied to the Valuation Year Chart for subdivisions within incorporated jurisdictions.
Archived Maps Available From the Pinal County Assessor
The Cartography Division has approximately 3,000 archived parcel maps available online for free. Please see the parcel maps page for more information.
Tax Area Codes
Tax Area Codes are created and maintained by the Cartography Division. Every Parcel in Pinal County is within a specific Tax Area Code. These Tax Area Codes contain the individual Taxing Authorities that may levy a tax on a property. Examples of Taxing Authorities are: School Districts, Pinal County, Cities, Electrical Districts, Irrigation Districts, Fire Districts, Flood Control Districts, Street Lighting Districts, Community Facility Districts, etc. There are about 200 individual Taxing Authorities and 500 different Tax Area Codes within Pinal County.