How to Appeal Your Property Tax Bill
No one wants to pay more in property taxes than necessary, but it’s not uncommon for your municipality to over-value your home. In fact, the National Taxpayers Union has estimated up to 60% of the U.S.’s real estate is assessed too high.
If you suspect your property has been overvalued, and you’re now being asked to pay increased taxes as a result, here’s how to fight that assessment and appeal your property tax bill.
Check the Facts First
First, see what factors are being used to determine your home’s value. Ask your local assessor’s office for a copy of your property card. This document includes your home’s square footage, the size of your lot, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you have, the size of your garage and more. It’s an extremely useful tool for determining your home’s value.
Check your property card for any errors. If the assessor’s office thinks your property includes features that don’t exist, like an extra bedroom, that could be one reason for an incorrect assessment.
Your card might exclude some important information, too. For example, if your home is located on a busy highway, that could be one reason your assessed value is incorrect. Keep that in mind when you prepare your documentation.
Review the Comparables
You also want to compare the assessed value of your home to comparable properties in your neighborhood. Try to find 5-7 properties like yours: same square footage, similar updates and similar location.
If your home is priced higher than the comparables by more than 10%, there’s a good chance your appeal will be successful.
Gather your Evidence and Meet with Your Local Assessor’s Office
Before filing a formal appeal, try to secure a meeting with someone from your local assessor’s office. Bring in your tax bill, comparables, a copy of your property card, photos and any other evidence you’ve compiled.
Note that the assessor might not agree to meet informally. They could also refuse to adjust your property assessment. In that case, you’ll want to research the formal appeal process. The exact process will vary from one municipality to the next, but your assessor’s office should be able to guide you toward the proper protocol.
Submitting a Formal Property Tax Appeal
Generally, you’ll be required to submit a written request along with supporting documentation that outlines why you believe the original property assessment is incorrect. Once you’ve filed, expect to hear back anywhere from a few weeks to more than a month — the timeline will depend on the workload at your assessor’s office.
And remember, take care of these steps as soon as you receive your increased property tax bill. Most cities only accept appeals during a certain time frame, and you don’t want to miss any deadlines.
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