Paying less tax on your residential property is possible through a tax appeal. That means notifying the local government and proving you deserve a tax decrease. The process demands some tedious effort you’ll need to prepare for.
Thus, you should know the entire home tax appeal process to avoid missing anything. You want to be successful with your appeal, after all. Then enjoy more savings on the next tax season.
What You Should Know About Appealing Your Home Tax
The local government primarily calculates the property tax based on the assessed value of a home. That sounds simple until you know what assessed value means, especially when you find out that it’s different from your home’s market price. That’s why you should begin understanding property tax appeals by knowing more about assessed value.
The problem? The local county assessor calculates your property tax.
Assessed Value vs. Market Price
Here is the truth: assessed value is not the same as market value. The two have a lot of differences that can be off by a few hundred thousand dollars.
Now, the best Realtor reminds you that the market price of your home has more weight than the assessed value. The assessed value is a mere estimation of your home price that doesn’t include many factors. On the other hand, the market price is the actual price of your home. The assessed value can even go $100,000 lower or higher than the market price.
The problem? The local county assessor calculates your property tax according to your home’s assessed value. It’s great if such a value is much lower than your home’s market price. However, a higher assessed value is something to worry about because it links to higher property tax.
That’s when you should appeal your property tax and make it lower for the next paying season. However, prepare some essential proofs that you’re home’s assessed value is truly off. After all, the process would circle on proving that your tax runs on inaccurate values.
Here’s how to Lower Down Your Property Tax
1. Move at the Right Moment
You can’t just appeal your property tax anytime you want. There is a perfect time for the process. And the mailing date of your tax assessment notice can tell you that.
In most states, you can submit a property tax appeal within 30 days after the mailing date of the tax bill. If you fail to do so, you need to wait for your next year’s tax assessment notice.
2. Determine How Your Local Government Calculates Property Taxes
Once you’ve decided to move, start by knowing how your town or city calculates property taxes. The best Realtor reminds you to know what factors make up the property taxes in your area since those are the same points you’d use for appealing. Focus on the value that the local county assessor place for each factor. They should have accurate numbers according to your home value.
Now, how would you determine such factors that they use for calculating property taxes? The essential step is to get a copy of the field card that covers your property. You can get it from the local county assessor.
Such a field card lists all vital factors about your property. Think of lot size, square footage, number of bedrooms, garage size, and availability of add-ons such as a pool and a shed, among other points. Your city or town has fixed rates for each home feature. Then they use such rates for calculating property taxes. That’s how you’d know how they come up with the property tax value that they ask from you.
3. Check Your Field Card Thoroughly
Remember that your field card is an essential tool for appealing your property taxes. As mentioned above, it carries all factors that the local county assessor uses to calculate your taxes.
Now, check each factor and see if they show accurate values. For example, if your house has two bedrooms, then the card should carry such a detail. If the card tells your home has three or four bedrooms, then that’s one factor why you’re paying huge taxes.
When you notice any wrong value on the card, the best Realtor suggests you appeal it to the local office. That’s the easiest chance for you to appeal property taxes. However, if you see that the values are accurate and you still feel you’re paying too much, think of your home accessories first. After all, some add-ons, such as a swimming pool or a shed, can significantly pump your assessed home value.
4. Prove that the Assessed Value is Off
There are cases when homeowners still notice high assessed value, despite having accurate details in the field card. If you find yourself in such a situation, the best thing to do is prove that your home’s assessed value is off.
The thing is, you need enough proof to make such an appeal. Thankfully, there are a few options that can help:
Check Neighborhood Comps
Comparables or comps refer to houses with similar basic specifications, such as square footage, lot size, and the number of bedrooms. Ideally, two properties in comparison should be less than a mile from each other too.
How can comps help you? They tell you the assessed or market value of similar properties near your home. For example, you’ve found a property with similar features to your home but it has a lower assessed value. Then you can contest it to the local county assessor as an appeal.
However, it is best to tap in a reliable real estate agent to help you with comps. They can help you find comps easily since they have a good list of properties in a given area.
It is easy for the best Realtor to identify the assessed value of comps as well. Then they can compile it in an official document that the local assessor would accept.
Call an Appraiser
The next option you have is to connect with a professional property appraiser. These are experts that can evaluate the actual current value of a home with high accuracy.
Say the appraisal yields a lower assessed value than what your field card shows. Then you can use such data to appeal your property taxes. The appraiser can make an official document for you.
5. Request a Meeting with the Local Assessor
Now, you have official documents that you can use as proof about your property having a high assessed value. The next thing step is to head back to the local assessor’s office and request a meeting.
It doesn’t need to be a formal appointment. The idea is you should meet with any representative from the local assessor’s office for your appeal. You need to complete an appeal form wherein you’d fill in all the essential information for them to consider. If they won’t meet with you, that’s when you should file for a formal appeal.
Once the local assessor’s office accepts your case, they’d look through all the evidence you carry. The process typically takes around two weeks up to a month; although, the representative would inform you of their time frame.
If they’d approve your appeal, you’d start receiving lower property taxes. The best Realtor knows that’s what you are looking forward to. However, if they don’t approve your appeal, that’s when you should bring it to the state offices.
6. Appeal on State Level when Necessary
What if the local assessor’s office doesn’t approve your appeal? That’s when you should file your appeal on the state level. In some states, you should go to the Appellate Tax Board or Board of Property Tax Appeals.
Remember that you should prepare a small amount for the filing fee. Also, the waiting period before the board hears your case depends on the number of cases they need to handle.
7. Think Twice about Heading to the Court
There’s still a possibility that the state board would reject a property tax appeal. The Problem? The only option you can take after the state level is heading to the court. Of course, you should think twice about that.
Bringing your appeal to the court means exerting a lot of time, effort, and financial resources. That’s impractical when you only want to contest a small amount of property taxes. That’s why you should think twice about taking this option to avoid regrets.
Remember these Notes from the Best Realtor about Property Tax Appeal
Appealing property taxes is an exhaustive process. However, you can keep a lot of unnecessary headaches away when you know how the process works. That’s true, especially for gathering enough evidence that you can carry for the appeal processes. Prepare accordingly and keep these inputs from the best Realtor for successful results.