Measures to lower your property taxes

As the year comes to a close, the housing market remains a top priority for lawmakers and homeowners next year. In addition to high rates of foreclosure short sales, many families are still carrying negative equity or finding it difficult to refinance. However, home values have strengthened modestly over the course of the year, bringing some good news to both owners and potential buyers. While values may have fluctuated, many home assessments have not and there are a large number of households who may be overpaying on their property taxes.

As individuals seek to keep their tax bills low in the coming year, one of the first areas they focus on is their property taxes. Data from the National Taxpayers Union reveals that 60 percent of homes are overvalued on their property taxes - yet, only 2 percent of homeowners appeal their property taxes.

Taking action to ensure the property was assessed fairly

Homeowners have some recourse to determine if their property value was calculated accurately. First, property values and home details are public information and can be obtained through their local governments. Homeowners should pick up their property record card which is essentially a summary of their home's features. This may include the number of rooms in a home, square footage and other details that impact their value. It's not uncommon for mistakes to be made in this area, so individuals should double check to make sure their footage is correct. In addition, they should ensure the number of bedrooms is correct and other features, such as a swimming pool or a deck, have not been erroneously added to their property card. Additional features can easily drive up the value of a home.

If taxpayers choose to have their home reassessed, it's also important to know what professionals will be examining. If updates to the home have been made recently, this could drive a homeowner's value higher, so they should take this into consideration. On the offhand, if there are significant repairs that must be made or other characteristics that would drive down the value of a home, assessors should also be made aware of these features.

Many Americans are concerned about their tax filing next year due to the impending fiscal cliff, and as a result, trying to reduce their liability in other areas of their lives. Appealing inaccurate assessments is one tax sector that may help reduce individuals' overall tax obligations.

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Posted To: Tax Ranger's Blog By: Tax Ranger On: Friday, December 21, 2012
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