Homeowners may pay thousands in property taxes, and the amounts owed each year may fluctuate based on a variety of factors. However, in recent years, more people are experiencing a steep hike in the amount they are asked to pay, which has prompted a growing number of people to dispute their bills. While individuals may only be successful in getting their tax obligation lowered if a mistake was made or the home has been valued incorrectly, it's important to know the steps to take should they want to challenge their bill.
First, it's important to understand how property taxes are calculated. The amount of property tax a person pays is determined by multiplying their city's tax rate by the assessed value of their property and all of the structures on it. This value can change significantly if homeowners make improvements, such as putting in a new room, building a deck, installing a swimming pool or remodeling the kitchen.
The issue that is prompting many people to challenge their property tax assessments is that median home prices are down, and many assessments are only made every couple of years. As a result, assessors may be using older information that is now outdated to make determinations about how much a homeowner owes.
Appealing the assessment
Those who believe their assessment may be incorrect have the option to appeal their home's valuation. If this is the route homeowners decide to go, however, it's important that they do their homework. For instance, determining the length of time between assessments, the formulas professionals use to find the market value of the home and comparing the assessed value of similar properties in the area can be a good place to start. It's also critical to review the formal assessment for any errors, such as incorrect square footage, the wrong number of rooms or other inaccurate details.
It's also important to understand how the appeals process works in a particular municipality as the process varies by town. Therefore, homeowners should read the appeal form they receive from their assessor's office closely to ensure they have gathered all of the information required and followed the process exactly. In most cases, individuals may simply be required to send in their evidence. They may receive a response within a few months.
If individuals lose their local appeal, they may have the option to take it to a state level. However, they should keep in mind that a number of legal fees and court costs may apply, so they should make sure the cost of a state appeal is worth it.