How to Appeal County Property Tax Assessments

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Across the country homes have seen a recent decline in value. This is especially true of the high end of the market. The problem is most county tax assessments will still reflect property tax based on the value of your home one to 5 years ago. Most county tax assessors offices have an appeal process in place to appeal your property tax value.

  • Every county is slightly different but everywhere I have been the process to appeal property tax value is basically the same. After you get your tax notice compare the assessed value with what you think you could sell for in today's market. There is a good chance your tax notice has your home listed as worth more than you could sell for reasonably.

  • Look on your county assessor's web site, often on the county page with a link, or call your county property tax office. See if there is a form to fill out. Often you will be able to set an appointment time to appeal your tax value. Taxes are due in November so often they have October set aside with a board to review tax appeals.

  • Once you have an appointment you will need solid facts of prices homes sold for. Your comparable sales data must be in the form acceptable to the tax assessor to be successful in your appeal. Where I am there are 2 acceptable information sources.

  • The first source the county will accept is recent homes that are sold through a Realtor. A Real Estate agent can print these out for you from the local multiple listing service or MLS. They should be as recent as possible. Take all data, if you only take a few low sales the assessors reviewers will often see that and decline your appeal. Pay your Realtor for their time spent. many will offer to do it free as a service to get your business in the future, but agents are in lean times and you should offer to compensate them.

  • The second acceptable source is a state licensed appraisal done by a licensed appraiser. In my area this costs between $350 and $450. This would only be worth the expense if your state has high property taxes or your home is worth enough that the price reduction makes a difference in your tax bill.

  • Now you either turn in your data or meet with a review panel on your appointed day. My state uses a 3 person panel of real estate professionals. Typically in the past about half of the appeals are successful in getting a property tax reduction.

  • If you can't find a realtor (and you can easily) or an appraiser some counties accept data from a title company. The problem is most areas cannot release the information without the owner and former owner agreeing. If they sold through an agent usually they agreed to let agents and appraisers use the data to compare homes. A title company does not have that permission and may not be able to release specific sales data.

  • Most people only own and appeal their personal residence. If you own income property or commercial property or other land, even raw recreational land, you may see great tax savings with your appeal. One client owned several small apartment buildings and a commercial rental. He appealed this year and saved over $7,000. Good luck.

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