When you own your own home, you are subject to all of the costs that come with that. One of those that can be a considerable burden is property taxes. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t looking for a way to drive down the cost of those pesky taxes. That is where a property tax appeal can be your best friend. In fact, it might just be one the only way you can truly bring down the costs.
So if you are paying high property taxes here is how to manage appealing.
The process of appealing your property taxes will vary depending on your state. In actual fact, it can vary from county to county too.
However, you should be aware that when you begin appealing the property taxes, you are effectively saying that the assessed value of your property is too high.
The taxes that are applied to your home are calculated by multiplying your home’s assessed value by the tax rate in the area. You aren’t going to be arguing with the tax rate for the area. Instead, you will be looking to prove that your home isn’t worth as much as the assessor has stated.
When you get your home assessment or tax bill, you will also be given a window to appeal. Typically the number of days will somewhere between 30-90 days. Once you know the deadline, you can start taking steps to hammer down that bill.
Fees are often associated with appealing the property tax bill, and those fees will vary based on the value of your home. The fees will usually be paid upfront too. And, of the appeal doesn’t go your way – you won’t see that money back.
When you are completing the appeal, you will need to show why you feel your home has had too high a value placed on it. There are a few things that you can do here.
You are going to need to go over the details of your home assessment. Look for things that don’t match up.
- Are the right amount of bedrooms mentioned?
- Is the square footage of the bathroom correct?
- Has it got the attic conversion project down as completed?
You should also take the time to check what is said about the structural condition of the home too. Make detailed notes about anything that isn’t right.
Hiring someone to give you an independent appraisal will cost you upfront but is likely to save you longterm. A property appraiser will arrive at your home and inspect the house.
You will get a detailed report, which will include the correct measurements, photographs, and will have some other homes that are comparable in the neighbourhood listed too.
This will arm you with information about what other people are paying in terms of property tax. If you manage to find a home with is more valuable but paying less – you have a solid reason for appealing.
It would be best if you used the window for the appeal to gather as many facts about the property and discrepancies as you can. Once you have those, you will have to state your case with professionalism and clarity. Ensure that all of your documents and photos have been photocopied before you submit anything.
There might be some areas where you will need to attend a property tax hearing, just to finalize your appeal. You will need to file your appeal with the supporting documents that you have gathered. After this, you will be assigned a date to appear in front of a judge to discuss the matter further.
There is no need to worry here, you will present the facts, and they will reach a decision. A tax assessor or a representative from the tax assessor’s office may arrive to provide a counter-argument.
They can put forward any of the home improvements that you have made in their argument. However, if you have done your own homework, then you can still show your house is not worth as much as they have decided.
The worst outcome here is that your tax bill will remain the same, the best case is it will fall. You will not see an increase in your property tax bill because you have appealed the decision.
Is It Worth It?
In a word. Yes. If you feel that your home has been overvalued, and you are paying a substantial amount of money on property taxes, then you should certainly look to lower your property taxes.
It would be best if you did some calculations before you make the decision to appeal the property tax that you pay.
For example, if it is the case that you are only paying $100 over the odds, then consider if the cost of the appeal process is worth it. However, if your property has been overvalued by more than $20,000, then you stand to save a substantial amount on your property taxes.
It is often the case that people believe they will need to hire a lawyer and add on to the upfront costs of appealing your property tax bill. Actually, that isn’t the case. Without a doubt, you will be able to find a lawyer who will be willing to take your case, and in some cases will only charge if you are successful – you can represent yourself without issue.
An attorney won’t usually take the case unless you stand to save thousands a year because otherwise, it isn’t worth their time, or yours, and will cost you more to appeal than you will save in a year.
If you are currently considering the possibility that your property taxes have been miscalculated, then you should look into the appeals process for your state and county. Make sure that it is worth the time and the costs to complete to process correctly, and when it comes to hiring an appraisal company, make sure that you hire one that is reputable and knowledgeable.