How to Challenge High Property Taxes

Anna Williams
Posted

lower property taxesThe housing market is steadily recovering, so home values are on the upswing … but your property taxes might be going up right along with them.

If you’ve been hit with a statement this year that seems inconsistent with appreciation rates in your town, you may be able to appeal your bill.

It will take time and paperwork, but it could save you significant cash: Up to 40% of homeowners score lower assessments upon appeal, Kiplinger reports.

No idea where to begin? Kiplinger breaks down the process into a few easy steps:

  1. Stay on Top of Deadlines: Most districts offer homeowners 90 days to appeal a new assessment—but some schedules can be as short as 30 days. The bottom line: As soon as you receive a notice (usually during the first few months of the year), mark the deadline on your calendar—and get cracking.
  2. Explore Potential Tax Breaks: Head to your state’s website for taxation and find out if you’re eligible for any possible breaks. For example, some states offer home tax credits for those under a certain income, or for those with senior citizen or veteran status.
  3. Do Your Research: Many assessors’ offices allow homeowners to view their property’s record card online (and if not, you can request it from the local office). This record is the official description of your home that was the basis of the assessment. But mistakes happen—so take a good look and flag any errors that could be causing a tax spike. For example, the description may overstate the number of bathrooms in your home or include erroneous additions, like a backyard pool that you never added.
  4. Compare and Contrast: In most situations, we’re no fans of comparing yourself to others. But when it comes to property taxes, sizing up the Joneses can actually save you money. To help prove your case, sift through the record cards of neighbors with homes like your own, in terms of square footage, age and the number of rooms. If your homes are similar—but your assessments aren’t—you might have the grounds to appeal.

For the last three steps to potentially reduce your property tax bill, head to Kiplinger.

RELATED: What Is the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)?

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