In parts 1 and 2 of this series, I discussed the basics of successfully challenging your property tax assessment. Reducing the assessed value of your property is your right by law. There are services available in high tax states that will file a grievance for you. Generally, they charge an appraisal fee for your property and fees that average 50% of your tax savings for the first year if successful. While procedures and dates may vary in different geographical areas, the procedures outlined are a good road map for assessment practices.
Since real estate appraisers do appraisals, fees for this service can vary in price. Appraisals can cost anywhere from $50 and up. Appraisals are not always necessary but can help you to win your case. Evidence may be obtained from local real estate agents to support your case. They will be glad to help you with data about sales in your area. These sales should have occurred within 1/2 mile of the subject property. Try to get at least 3 comparable sales. Properties that most closely match yours in size, style, age, and proximity will be the best ones to use to bolster your case. Photos of all of the properties help prove your case and show errors that the assessor may have made.
The first thing to know is the day that grievances must be filed. If you miss this day, you will have to wait until the following year to file. The paperwork is not too difficult to fill out. If you have a problem, the assessors’ office will usually help you with the calculations. Be sure to read over the filing requirements, the basis for the filing, and the deadline for your submission. There are specific grounds that are acceptable to file a case. These are outlined on the forms that you filled out when filing your case.
Some localities will require a small filing fee, either the initial filing or court fees if the case reaches that level. Most jurisdictions will not require you to use a lawyer, even in court. I have found that the judges are very helpful to homeowners and will try to guide them in the proper way to submit their evidence, Blog Express.
The municipality that has assessed your property will be at the hearing to explain the assessed valuation that has been placed on the property. They will often offer a reduction if the evidence is compelling either at the local hearing or in court. You may accept the offer, make a counteroffer, or let the judge decide. If you let the judge decide, you will have to wait for several weeks for his determination. I usually recommend that my clients negotiate a settlement with the assessor rather than wait for the judge.
If you have done your homework, you should be successful in reducing your assessment. Keep in mind that any reduction in the assessment will not take effect until the following tax year.
One tip that can save you money is that if you have a house built, try to delay the completion until after taxable status day. This date can be found by calling the assessors’ office. This is the date that is used to determine the state of properties as far as assessable status. In other words, whatever state the property is in at that date is the status for assessment purposes. If the house is not completed until after that day, you will not be assessed for the house’s value until the following year since it is not on the tax rolls for that year. You will only pay taxes on the land.