If you recently received your current property tax bill and feel it is way too high, you could fight it to try to get it reduced. Fighting a property tax bill involves appealing the assessment with your local property assessor. While you are not guaranteed to win your appeal, your chances of winning are much higher if you present the right types of evidence with your paperwork. Hiring a real estate lawyer can also be valuable during this process, because real estate attorneys know this process inside out. Here are the steps you should take as you prepare to appeal your property taxes.
Step 1: Understand The Procedures Used To Calculate Property Taxes
There are numerous steps involved in calculating property taxes, but here is a simplified version. Your county has a certain tax rate they use, which is often referred to as the mill levy. The percentage is based on the financial needs of your county, and you cannot fight this rate.
The county multiplies this rate times the assessed value of your house and then takes any deductions for exemptions you have filed. Your property taxes could be higher than they should be if you have not filed the proper exemptions for your property.
If you have a loan on the property, you can file a mortgage loan exemption. You may also have the right to file a Homestead exemption. If you are entitled to any exemptions and haven't filed them, it is your responsibility to do this. The problem is that the exemptions will not be applied until the following year, so this would not help your current tax bill.
If you see any errors in the calculations, you could use this information to appeal your tax amount. The most common error people find is in the assessed value of the house.
Step 2: Verify The Accuracy Of The Assessment Of Your House
The assessed value of your house is the dollar amount value the assessor has placed on your property. The assessor does not compute this by performing an appraisal on your house, and the assessor probably has not even looked at your house. The amount is simply based on certain factors, including:
- The year the house was built
- The square footage of the house
- The number of bathrooms and bedrooms it has
- The location of the house
You can review the information the assessor used when calculating the assessed value, and you should verify its accuracy. This information should be listed on your property tax statement. If you discover that the assessor has the wrong information about your house, you can fight the tax amount with this information.
For example, if the report says you have a four-bedroom house with three bathrooms, and you really have a two-bedroom house with one bathroom, you might easily be able to get the assessor to change the assessed value.
Step 3: Compare The Assessed Value To Your Appraisal Amount
Finally, if you recently had an appraisal on your house that revealed your house was worth a lot less than what the assessed value is, you could send in a copy of the appraisal with your appeal. An appraisal is much more accurate than an assessed value, because an appraiser actually visits a house that he or she appraises.
You could also bring in information that reveals appraised or assessed values of homes similar to yours to prove that your assessed value is too high.
If you can appeal your assessed value and win, you are likely to see a decrease in your property tax bill. If you would like help fighting this appeal, contact a real estate attorney in your area.