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Fighting Property Taxes

Property taxes are one area where vigilant citizens can influence their bill by negotiating with authorities for a reduced assessment. Normally there are specific windows of time where this can be done, such as 60 days after you receive your annual assessment. Assessments typically begin with your purchase price and continue to increase each year arbitrarily. One source stated that those who fight an assessment are successful in getting a reduction 70% of the time.

TIPS:

  • Many states have Homestead Exemptions to reduce property taxes on primary residences. Check to make sure you are benefiting from this.
  • Many states are limited in how much they can increase taxes and/or the assessed value of a home you reside in. This stems from efforts to protect Seniors who may be forced to sell their home because they can’t afford property taxes in retirement on a residence they have owned for 30+ years. So if you plan to upgrade to a new home after living in your current home for some time, be prepared for an increase in your property taxes.
  • Consider the impact of home improvements on your assessed property value. Homeowners can be surprised at the sharp increase in property taxes as a result of an addition and other upgrades.

  • Many states have programs to help Seniors, Veterans and low income groups with property taxes.

Steps:

1. Determine what factors were used in the assessment

Localities approach valuations differently. Some have little to do with the fair market value of your home. Contact the appropriate office and politely ask what criteria were used in your home’s valuation.

2. Verify that the description of your property is accurate

Assessors can make errors. And because they can’t enter your residence, they often make assumptions. Make sure their description reflects your home in terms of size, improvements, number of rooms, etc.

3. Obtain evidence to support your assessment

Collect information on homes similar to yours in your area. Build a specific case for your home. Unfinished basements, lack of upgrades, no master bedroom, no parking, etc. reduce property values. It may be helpful to have a realtor or appraiser come in to value your home.

4. If unsuccessful, appeal

The first answer is often no. Request a hearing to appeal.

 

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