If you were only looking at some property tax assessments, you might not get the idea that the housing market recently crashed . Many counties continue to value homes at what they used to be, before we saw a drastic drop in home values. While this isn’t true for all localities, you might find that your property tax assessment is higher than you feel it should be. Especially if “market value” has changed in your neighborhood.
Obviously, because you pay property taxes based on what the county (or city or state) says your home is worth, the higher your assessment, the more you owe. If you feel that your property tax assessment is too high, you can challenge it, saving yourself some money if the assessment is adjusted downward.
Do a Little Recon: Know the Process
Before you start the process of challenging your property tax assessment, you want to make sure you are clear on the process. Find out exactly what the procedure is. Each county will have its own forms, methods and meetings attached with submitting a challenge. Additionally, you will want to be aware of the time limit. In most cases, you will be sent an assessment, and what you owe, in advance of when you have to pay. Most counties require that you submit your challenge within a specific time frame.
Create a checklist of everything you need to challenge your property tax assessment, and then get to work on getting your paperwork together. One of the most important documents you are likely to need is a full-value appraisal . This might cost you anywhere between $200 and $1,000 (or more). However, if there is a big discrepancy, the savings could be worth it.
Build a Case
When you challenge a property tax assessment, you will need to have evidence backing up your claim as to the actual value of your home. Have the full appraisal done, and include information about what similar homes in your area have sold for. A good appraisal company, when you state the reason for the appraisal, should know what information will be needed. Make sure you submit all of your evidence in accordance with proper procedure. Fill out all forms legibly, and be professional and polite when speaking with anyone involved with your case, and with administrative people who help you find the right forms and procedures.
After you have submitted all of your paperwork, you may be required to meet with a member of the county commission or some other official. Make sure you dress neatly, and that you present yourself in a professional manner. Don’t lose your temper, and clearly state your case, and what you hope the outcome will be.
Appealing the Local Decision
After you have gone through everything, it can take anywhere between four and 12 weeks for some bodies to change your assessment. Wait with patience. When your bill comes, if matters haven’t been resolved, you should pay what you owe. If you would like, you can add the words “paid in protest” to the memo line of your check. However, you should not resort to threats or obscenity, since that can result in even more troubles. And failure to pay your property taxes can result in the loss of your home. It’s better to pay now and get your refund when matters are resolved.
If the local decision comes back, and you still feel as though the assessment is way out of line, you can usually appeal to your state board of review. Once again, find out the procedure, and submit your case. If you are right, the state board will require that the county amend your assessment to more accurately reflect the current value of your property.
Unfortunately, if an appeal fails, you may be out of luck, unless you are prepared to sue or make some other claim.