Even though the real estate market is soft these days, which means property values are probably less than they could be, the decrease in what your property is worth might not to be reflected in how much you pay in property taxes. Property assessments for tax purposes are done on a regular basis, but generally not every year. Instead local governments do their assessments every few years, which means you may be paying more property tax than you really should because your home is worth less than it was a few years ago. There is also a chance that a mistake was made on the original assessment. The assessor may be under the impression that your three-bedroom home has four bedrooms or maybe there is some confusion regarding recent home improvements. Whatever the issue may be, you have the right to appeal. Following are a few tips on how to reduce your property taxes.
Check the Records
In order to reduce your property tax rate, you need to have a current evaluation of your property’s worth. One way to do that is to determine the taxable value of comparable homes in your neighborhood. You can do an online search or visit the assessor’s office to find that information. If your property’s value is out of line with others in your area you may be able to have your taxes reduced. Check your own property’s records and make sure the dimensions are recorded accurately, and the property is described correctly. Visit a real estate office and find out if there have been any recent comparable sales in your area. If so, determine if they sold for less than your property is assessed. You will need these comparable assessments to give you grounds for an appeal. As a general rule, it will bolster your chances to have your taxes reduced if you can come up with five examples of comparable properties that are assessed for less than your property is.
Appealing Your Property Assessment
Before you can even be considered for a property tax deduction, you must file a formal appeal. There is no real incentive for the government to reduce your taxes voluntarily – they will lose revenue. It’s up to you to prove your property is assessed at too high a rate and should be reduced. After you’ve done your research and are convinced you’re being taxed at too high a rate, you need to begin the appeals process. Visit the tax assessor’s office and get copies of the appeals form. You may also be able to download the form from you local government’s website. There may be a cutoff date for filing an appeal. Be sure to check on this so that you don’t accidentally miss an important deadline.
It is vital for you to have as much documentation as you possibly can to back up your claim that your property is overvalued. Tax assessors are generally very busy, and sometimes they don’t take the time to properly evaluate a property. They may simply drive by and look at your home without actually seeing the inside. A drive-by means that they may miss important details, such as whether or not anything has been done (or not done) to the property to decrease its value. That’s where your research and documentation comes in. By accurately measuring your property and recording it you will have proof of actual dimensions, and whether or not comparable properties are assessed at a lower rate.
If you’ve done your homework and come to the conclusion that your property is assessed at more than its actual value, it may be to your advantage to have a professional appraisal done in order to validate your claim. If the appraisal reflects your findings, the extra expense could be offset by any reduction in your property taxes. Another helpful professional could be a tax attorney who can provide advice on additional ways to reduce your taxes. Consulting a local real estate agent may also help ensure that your appeal be accepted. They could verify that the comparables you found are accurate and relevant. If you’ve done your research correctly and can support your claim, you should definitely see a reduction on your property tax.
Bailey Harris writes for www.insurancequotes.org.