Income tax, sales tax, estate tax, excise tax, alternative minimum tax…and just when you thought you’d paid them all…along comes your property tax bill as a homeowner. But did you know that the National Taxpayers Union estimates that as many as 60% of homes are assessed for too high of a value, resulting in an incorrectly larger property tax bill? Chances are good you might be in that group of people paying too much, so taking the time to review your property tax bill could save you a nice chunk of change.
The good news is that it’s easy.
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 think 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 If the appraisal is outdated, you can order a new one–just call me for a referral to a great appraiser.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 you own your home.