Real estate property taxes are an increasing concern for both those in the market to purchase a home and those who already own one. Significant tax hikes are increasingly common in the news in many heavily populated areas.
Increases in property taxes create increased financial pressure on household budgets while also applying downward pressure on the owner's ability to sell their home. This occurs because prospective buyers are often reluctant to purchase a home in areas where tax rates are escalating.
If you are a home or property owner who is concerned about increasing real estate taxes in your area, a property tax appeal may be a viable option to consider.
Property tax bills are generated by each property's assessed value. This numerical value is usually computed by an elected county assessor using a specific formula. Assessments are typically updated on a periodic basis, with homeowners receiving a notification letter of the results. Homeowners who do not agree with the new assessed value have the option to appeal it.
Verify the facts
Before moving ahead with any property tax appeal process, it can be very helpful to first verify all the identifying data on your tax bill and any notification letter you may have received. Look at specific information that can affect tax rate calculations such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, and recent structural changes or improvements. Errors or typos in this data do happen and may cause the property owner to receive a tax bill that is too high.
File the appeal quickly
Upon notification of a proposed tax rate increase, homeowners typically have a relatively short time frame in which to respond if they find errors or do not agree with the basis for the increase. The deadline limit and steps to file a formal appeal can be found on the county assessor's website and may also be included in the notification letter.
Get real estate comps
Once you have verified the data and made a definite decision to move ahead with an appeal process, your next step is to obtain several comps from properties similar to yours that have recently sold. This information is typically provided at no charge by reputable real estate agents who are interested in helping homeowners protect themselves from unfair taxation.
This comparable information can help strengthen your case by showing that your home is not as large or valuable as a specific comparable property and therefore should not be subject to a tax hike.
Your appeal, once formally filed, will be reviewed by a separate, independent board, and you will be notified of their decision. To learn more about the real estate tax appeal process in your area or request comps for the purpose of filing a property tax appeal, contact an experienced real estate agent or property tax consultant in your area.