Property taxes seem to jump up year after year. Unfortunately, we’ve become so accustomed to rising taxes that it’s no longer a surprise. But here’s something that may surprise you. Did you know that over the last eight years, property taxes have actually outpaced even inflation? Those rising taxes – combined with the recent plateau in home values in some areas – mean you may be paying more than your fair share.
In fact, the National Taxpayers Union estimated that as many as 60% of home values were assessed too high, resulting in an incorrectly larger property tax bill.
Based on recent market activity and the rising property taxes across the country, there’s a chance you may be in the group of people paying too much. In fact, homeowners in declining markets are receiving solicitations from companies that charge up to $250 to help lower property taxes. But with the steps below, you can work with your local County Assessor to lower property taxes for free…and save yourself the $250!
The good news: 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 that 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 If the appraisal is outdated, you can order a new one–just call me for a referral to a great appraiser.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. 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.