Methods to reduce property taxes
Owning a home is expensive, as property taxes can be extremely heavy. Annual property tax bills tend to rise steadily over time. Even if you pay off your mortgage, the taxes keep coming. Most homeowners don’t realize they should be paying less and don’t understand how their taxes are calculated. Most households take their tax assessments at face value and most of the time their property is overvalued.
Here we provide some tips you can follow to challenge your assessment and save money.
1) Understand the process
Local authorities send assessment notices in the first few months of the year, although timetables can vary. The notice contains contact details if you disagree with the assessment. It also provides details related to filing a complaint and gives a specific time frame within which you can dispute or file a case. The time frame varies from area to area. In some places it is two weeks; in others it can be as long as six weeks. If you miss this appeal period, you may have to wait until next year to protest. Also, check how your property is valued in your area.
2) Request for property tax card and review it
A property map is often included in the assessment notice; however, this may also be available online. Alternatively, you can go to City Hall and request a copy of the property tax map from the local assessor’s office. The map contains information used by the appraiser to determine the appraised value of your home, such as property size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms along with their dimensions, garage, and more.
Check for card inconsistencies as such errors are common. If there is any incorrect information, raise the issue with the tax assessor. He/she will make the correction and re-evaluation will be done.
3) Collect evidence of houses in the neighborhood
You can research 5 to 10 homes that are comparable in size and value to your house in the neighborhood. Check the price at which they were sold. You can also check the price of comparable houses on real estate sites and have photos of the houses with price and size. If your house has been overvalued, you can build your case and request a review from the appraiser.
4) Do not build or add to a house
If you make any structural changes to your home, there will be an increase in the tax bill. Your property tax bill is directly related to the value of your home. If you add a new bedroom, porch, veranda, swimming pool or any permanent fixture to your home, your tax burden will increase. You can research the cost of a new addition in terms of property tax prior to construction with your local building and tax department.
5) Appeal to yourself
You should appeal on your own rather than seek professional help, as third-party experts such as lawyers, appraisers and consultants charge fees of up to 50% of the first year’s reduction. Additionally, some appeals boards are sympathetic to self-represented homeowners.
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