Property taxes play a vital role in our communities.  Nonetheless, there is no reason to pay more than your fair share.  For this reason, it is important to challenge your property taxes if you believe the assessed value is incorrectly high.
In many states, laws were passed years ago which limited the amount property taxes could increase per year. These laws allow for the predictability of slow, steady growth in property taxes, uninfluenced by rapid fluctuations in real estate values. So in these states, despite real estate prices skyrocketing a few years ago, property taxes valuations increased only a minimal amount. For that same reason, now that values have receded the tax assessment in many cases are still below present value and therefore could have room to continue increasing.

To look into this, you can locate your previous property assessment on your annual property tax bill under the valuation information section. If you truly feel the value is significantly lower, you may qualify for a lower tax rate. Do some research to see if there is a charge for having your property taxes reassessed. Each county differs in the process, but most counties will reassess your property at no charge. It is worth checking into for the possibility of saving hundreds of dollars. Be sure to ask if the process could possibly increase your taxable amount. Be especially careful about this if significant improvements have been made to the home that the county may not be aware of.
The method for lowering your property tax will vary depending on where you live, but here is a good guideline to get you started:
 
1. Do an on-line search to find the Web site for your County Tax Assessor's Office or Tax Collector's Office.

2. Go to the Forms section and look for a form with the words "reassessment request" or "decline in market value." If you can't find that call the office and ask them to email, fax or mail such a form to you. Usually this form will ask you for (a) an estimate of the current market value of your home, and (b) a list of recent, comparable sales in your neighborhood supporting that lower estimate of value.


3. Call me and I will be happy to provide the information you need for comparable sales.


4. Apply for reassessment and attach a copy of the comparables.  Allow several weeks, then call and check on the progress of your request.  If you are within the proper assessment amount as determined by the assessor, they may determine that it's not worth their time to come out and reevaluate your property value.  


5. If after applying nothing happens, it may be necessary to contact the tax assessor’s office.  You can begin with a phone call.  It is important to prepare your argument and back up all of your beliefs with data. Most appeal cases are able to be resolved without going to a formal hearing.


6. If it becomes apparent that a formal appeal will be necessary then sit in on another person's formal hearing to challenge property taxes before participating in your own, if at all possible. It's a good idea to get a sense of the process to figure out the best way to present your argument during your own hearing. You may also be able to get an idea of the way the review board responds to certain types of arguments.

HOW TO CHALLENGE YOUR PROPERTY TAXES IF YOU BELIEVE THE ASSESSED VALUE IS INCORRECTLY HIGH

Find out how your county assessor determines the value of your property. Depending on how your assessor determines value could put you at an advantage or disadvantage. If you feel the assessor has incorrectly estimated the value of your property, you have the right to appeal.

Your appeal must be based on the property's assed value, not just on the amount of taxes shown on the tax statement. To receive a reduction in your value, you must convince your county board of property tax appeals that the assessed value of your property is too high. Support your belief with information such as appraisal reports or comparable sales data.
 

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