Property Tax, Adjusting

Q.  We just paid our property tax and we noticed that the property we bought a few years back has dropped about 12% in value but our property tax has not gone down accordingly.  Is there anything we can do to get our tax bill lowered?

 A.  Yes.  The National Taxpayers Union estimates that as many as 60% of homes are assessed for too high of a value, resulting in an inflated property tax bill.  The chances are better than even money that you’re in that group of people paying too much. 

The good news is that it’s easily corrected.  First contact your local tax assessor’s office and ask for someone in the reassessment area.  Find out when appeals are heard, and how the process for submitting a property tax appeal works.  Additionally, ask for a copy of your property card.  Review the card and confirm that the basic information about your property is correct.  For example, is the square footage and number of rooms for your home accurate?  If the number is incorrect, the county may change the assessment without a formal appeal.  If everything on the property card is correct but the assessed value still seems too high, your next step is to gather the following documentation to support an appeal.  And don’t be surprised if the assessed value is lower than what you thing the market value for your home is—many counties use a formula which uses a percentage of market value to determine assessed value.  Ask what the formula is, because an assessment which is less than market value still might be too high.

If you have a current appraisal that supports the value being lower using recent market-value information, many counties will accept a copy of the appraisal with the appeal.  If the appraisal is outdated, you can order a new one—just call me for a referral to a great appraiser.  You can also visit the local assessor’s office or search online, and look through the public records for other homes that have similar features to yours, but have lower assessments.  Additionally, contact me to get in touch with a great Realtor who knows your area.  They will be able to give you current market information for your neighborhood, and help you see how your market value and assessed value stacks up against your neighbors.

Submitting an appeal is generally a fairly simple process, but make sure to take the time to fill out all forms in advance and be prepared with your documentation if there is an in-person hearing that needs to take place.

More good news—according to the National Taxpayers Union, about 33% of property tax appeals succeed!  Taking the time to review the accuracy of a tax bill could easily save you hundreds of dollars per year, adding up to thousands of dollars during the time your own your home. 

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