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Jun 29, 2019 11:48 AM EDT

How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment to Save Money

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How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment to Save Money

(Photo : Pixabay)

Most homeowners never think to question the mortgage escrow notice they receive each year. They pay their property tax without giving it a second thought. Each year, millions of homeowners miss the opportunity to lower their property taxes.

Only 2% of homeowners appeal their assessments, which is the first step in lowering taxes and could potentially save thousands of dollars. To make matters worse, about 60% of properties are overvalued by assessors.

Getting a break on your property taxes isn't as difficult as it may seem.

Read the Assessment Letter

The first and most important step is to read the assessment letter.

"To appeal an assessment, it's important for the property owner to read the assessment letter thoroughly, as it contains information about deadlines to appeal the assessment," says the Law Offices of Gary H. Smith, P.C. "In addition, the back of the letter often has appeal procedures for the taxing agency's appeal process."

The letter will also contain other important information, such as whether the property is residential or commercial, the number of bedrooms in the home, and the size of the lot.

If any of the information listed in the letter is incorrect, you can follow the listed steps to correct the information and get a new assessment. You may need to submit building drawings when trying to correct the information.

Make sure that the property description is accurate in terms of rooms, sqaure footage and amenities.

Check for Exemptions

Most homeowners will automatically qualify for the homestead exemption if they live in the home and do not rent it out.

There are also exemptions for seniors, disabled individuals and veterans. To find out if you qualify for exemptions, call your assessor or check their website.

In addition to exemptions, you may be able to explore special issues that may affect your property. For example, if your neighborhood was hit with a natural disaster and a tree fell on your roof causing damage you haven't been able to repair, you may be able to use this circumstance to lower your assessment.

You Recently Purchased Your Home and Have a Current Appraisal

If you have a recent appraisal which states that your home is worth less than its assessed value, you can use this as solid evidence to lower your assessment.

Of course, you also have the option of purchasing a new appraisal. It will cost you a few hundred dollars, but it may be worth the cost if it can make your case for a lower assessment.

It's important to note that you're not appealing your tax bill directly. Once you receive your bill, it's too late to appeal your assessment. That's why it's so important to read the assessment letter to find information about the appeal deadline.

There's no guarantee that you'll be able to lower your tax bill, but it's worth the effort. The assessment process isn't uniform and is often opaque. It's up to you, the taxpayer, to challenge your assessment if you feel that it's unfair.

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