Homeowners, are your property tax bills going up? If the pandemic is hitting hard on you, here is some relief. No matter if you see a significant increase in your tax bill, there are always grounds for an appeal.  You can cut down a certain amount from your property tax bill by opting for an appeal. The assessed value is what is used to calculate the amount of taxes you owe. If you could show that the value of your home is worth less than the assessed value then you can lower your taxes. Let’s take a look at the appeal process.

The property tax appeal process

Take a brief look at your assessment letter

The local governments assess all the properties periodically for tax purposes. When the assessment letter pops up in your email, you may have noticed the information on your property being listed out. This includes information such as the lot size and the assessed value of your property. Your property taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value with the tax rate that prevails in the town you reside. If you feel your property taxes are way too much compared to what you think it should be, you have 30 days of time to challenge this assessed value. You can find the procedure to challenge your property taxes behind your assessment letter.

Is the process worth your time?

The effort you put into challenging your taxes depends on how much your property tax bill is. In places like Texas where the property tax rates are higher the potential savings could be high. So, yes protesting your property tax bill is definitely worth your time!

Cross-check your data

It is always better to cross-check if the information about your property is correct. Check if the number of bathrooms, fireplaces, size of the parking lot are all mentioned properly. This is because there is a huge difference between 0.4 acres and 4.0 acres. If the data mentioned is incorrect, it can make your challenge a lot easier.

Get the comparables

Find a few properties that are similar to yours in terms of size, style, condition, etc. You can either seek help from a realtor or check out websites like Enriched RealEstate. You can also opt to hire an appraiser who can give you a professional opinion about the value of your property.

Now that you have found a few properties that are similar to yours, check their assessment values. You can find this information on public databases that are maintained by your local government. Else, you can also get help from real estate agents or from neighbors by requesting them to share their tax information. If the assessment values of your competitors are lower, your challenge can be a little easy as you can argue that your property’s value is too high.

Suppose the assessments end up to be the same, if you could prove the comparables are superior to yours then you might get relief based on the equity. When we say the “comparables are superior” it means the property you compare to is better than yours when you are struggling to clean up your property affected by a storm. In cases like this, the properties cannot be compared anymore.

Presenting your case

With the research and evidence you have, call your local assessor’s office. Many will opt to discuss via phone, you can always request a formal review if you are not satisfied with the explanation given via phone. Keep an eye on the procedures and the deadlines. You will be asked to fill out a form and you can also find instructions for supporting evidence. The review process might take months or sometimes even longer but you will have to wait for the decision. Make sure you receive your decision in writing.

Appeal if not satisfied

If you are not satisfied with the review you can appeal your decision all by yourself or with the help of a lawyer to an independent board. You will be required to pay a fee for it. If you take your challenge to the appraisal board it might stretch up to a year, especially if there are a high number of appeals. Here is one major thing to keep in mind when weighing an appeal. The appeal board can only help you lower your assessment and not the rate at which you are taxed. Another easy way to save is by determining if you qualify for an exemption. This could be based on age, disability, veteran exemption, etc.

Get to know about property tax exemptions.

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