Battle Your Property Taxes

Rally the troops, ready the canons and stand up in defiance of the english tyranny! Sorry, sorry... the "freedom" speech from Braveheart got a hold of me.

Battling your local assessor's office is not as serious as standing up to the evil's that threaten to take away our freedoms yet your attack plan must be thorough and sound. Many people enjoyed the housing boom and the huge gains in appreciation on their property and the property taxes boomed along with it. Now, with the collapse of the housing market in the majority of cities throughout the United States, many homeowners are left with inaccurate or unfair assessments and property taxes that stretch their family budget to the breaking point.

The National Taxpayers Union estimates that as much as 60% of taxable property in the United States is overassessed. But despite the growing tax bills, only half of homeowners protest their assessments. That means many homeowners are paying more property taxes than necessary.

SmallBizTax.net has five tips to appeal your property taxes:

  1. Don't delay. In some areas, you have only 30 days to appeal. I just received my property tax bill for one of my rental properties and it says right smack on the notice "ASSESSMENT COMPLAINTS MAY BE FILED WITH THE BOARD OF REVIEW UNTIL 30 DAYS AFTER THE DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ASSESSMENT LIST". In their cryptic notice, you have to wait until this publication goes out and then you only have 30 days to file the appeal and there is no date specifying when the publication will take place - Call your assessors office to find out if you have a similar clause.
  2. Check proportions. Examine the notice to see whether it overstates your home's dimensions. Mistakes occur frequently. Some assessors don't even come on site; they simply compare comps in your neighborhood.
  3. Compare your assessment to a half-dozen similar homes (in size, age and location) at the assessor's office or your local assessor's website. Most counties have their records available online.
  4. Battle the bureaucracy. If your assessment seems high, arrange a meeting at your assessor's office. COME PREPARED! Bring all evidence including photos, data on comps, etc. You may get a tax reduction based on obvious facts. If it doesn't work, you can still file a formal appeal.
  5. Consider a consultant. If you don't have time to fight city hall, property tax consultants or attorneys can do the legwork. Fees are charged by contingency, a flat fee or by the hour so make sure your savings are worth the time for a professional. Contingency is obviously the best way since the consultant only gets paid for results.

If you've had success battling to lower your property taxes, please share your experience and any tips or tricks for the readers. Thanks in advance and good luck!

-dr

Disclaimer: Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of the tax information provided in this blog. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional tax advice based on your individual needs.

Posted To: Tax Rants by David Rocci By: David Rocci On: Friday, October 02, 2009
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