Owning a house is expensive because property taxes can be extremely heavy. Annual property tax bills tend to increase steadily over time. Even if you pay off your mortgage, the taxes keep coming. Most homeowners don't realize they have to pay 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 that you can follow to challenge your assessment and save money.
1] Understand the process
Local governments send out notices of assessment during the first months of the year, although schedules may vary. The notice provides the details of the contact you should contact in case of disagreement with the assessment. It also provides the details related to the appeal, and a specific time limit is given during which you can dispute or file a complaint. The time frame varies in different areas. In some places it's two weeks; in others, it can go up to six weeks. If you miss this call window, you may have to wait until next year to protest. Also check how your property is assessed in your area.
2] Apply for a property tax card and review
The property card is often included with the appraisal notice; however, this can also be viewed online. Alternatively, you can go to the town hall and request a copy of the property tax card from the local appraiser's office. The card contains information used by the appraiser to determine the assessed value of your home, such as the size of the property, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms as well as their dimensions, the garage, etc.
Check for any anomalies on the card as such errors are common. If there are incorrect details, raise the issue with the taxpayer. He / She will make the correction and a reassessment will be carried out.
3] Collect evidence of houses in the neighborhood
You can search for 5 to 10 homes that are comparable in size and value to your home in the neighborhood. Check the price at which they were sold. You can also check the cost of comparable houses on real estate websites and have pictures of the houses with the price and size. If your house has been overvalued, you can build your file and request a review by the appraiser.
4] Do not build or add to the house
If you make structural changes to your home, there will be an increase in the tax bill. The property tax bill is directly related to the value of your home. If you add a new bedroom, patio, porch, pool or other permanent fixture to your home, your tax burden will be increased. You can inquire about the cost of a new addition in terms of property tax before construction from your local construction and tax department.
5] Call yourself
You should appeal yourself instead of asking for professional help, as third party experts such as lawyers, appraisers and consultants charge fees of up to 50% off the reduction from the first year. In addition, some appeal commissions are favorable to owners who represent themselves.