Owning a home is expensive as property taxes can be extremely burdensome. Annual property tax bills tend to rise steadily over time. Even if you pay off your mortgage, the taxes keep coming. Most homeowners do not realize that they need to pay less and do not understand how their taxes are calculated. Most households take their tax assessments at face value, and, most of the time, their property is over-assessed.
Here, we provide a few tips that you can follow to challenge your assessment and save money.
1) Understand the process
Local governments send assessment notices in the first few months of the year, although the schedules may vary. The notice provides the details of the contact you need to contact in case you disagree with the assessment. It also provides the details related to making an appeal, and a specific time frame is given during which you can challenge or file a case. The time frame varies in different areas. In some places, it is two weeks; in others, it may be up to six weeks. If you miss this appeal window, you may need to wait until next year to protest. Also, check how your property is assessed in your area.
2) Request for property tax card and review it
The property card is often included with the assessment notice; however, this can also be accessed online. Alternatively, you can go to the town hall and request a copy of the property tax card from the office of the local assessor. The card contains information used by the assessor to determine the assessed value of your home such as the size of the property, number of bedrooms and bathrooms along with their dimensions, garage, etc.
Check for any discrepancies in the card as such errors are common. If there is any incorrect detail, raise the issue with the tax assessor. He/ She will make the correction, and a re-evaluation will be conducted.
3) Gather evidence of houses in neighborhood
You can research 5 to 10 homes that are comparable in size and value to your house in the neighborhood. Check the price at which they have been sold. You can also check the cost of comparable houses in real estate sites and have pictures of the houses with the price and size. If your house has been overvalued, you can thus build your case and request a review by the assessor.
4) Do not build or add on to the house
If you make any structural changes to your home, there will be an increase in the tax bill. The property tax bill is directly related to the value of your home. If you add a new bedroom, deck, porch, swimming pool, or any permanent fixture in your home, your tax burden will be increased. You can investigate the cost of a new addition in terms of property tax before construction from your local building and tax department.
5) Appeal to yourself
You should appeal yourself instead of seeking professional help, as third-party experts such as attorneys, appraisers, and consultants charge fees up to 50% of the first year’s reduction. Moreover, some appeal boards are sympathetic towards homeowners who represent themselves.