Each year, homeowners across the country pay property taxes to state and local tax authorities. How much you pay in property taxes depends on where you live, but generally the tax is calculated by applying a tax rate known as a millage rate to the assessed value of your property.
When Should You Dispute Your Property Taxes?
There are two main reasons to dispute your property taxes. If you received your property tax bill and feel that your home was over-assessed, you may consider filing an appeal to dispute your property tax assessment.
To decide whether you should dispute your property tax assessment, you’ll have to figure out how much higher the assessment was than what you believe your property is worth. If the assessment is only $2,000 or $3,000 higher than the true value, that probably won’t affect your tax bill enough to be worth appealing.
You may also want to appeal your tax bill if the assessed value is accurate, but you realized you haven’t claimed all the exemptions that you’re eligible for. State and local tax authorities offer a wide variety of exemptions for property taxes, and some states will grant taxpayers multiple exemptions if they qualify.
If you’re concerned that appealing your property tax assessment might result in a penalty or being charged higher taxes in retaliation, don’t worry. You cannot be punished for requesting an appeal on your assessment. Remember, you’re not fighting with your county tax collector; you’re simply requesting a review of the documentation to make sure everything’s correct.
The amount of time you have to file an appeal of your property tax assessment varies depending on your local tax authority’s rules. Generally, taxpayers have 30-45 days to appeal an assessment once they receive their tax bill.
Experts estimate that 30% to 60% of taxable properties in America are over-assessed. Yet, only about 5% of homeowners go through the process of appealing their property tax assessments.
How to Dispute Your Property Taxes
If you decide to dispute your property tax assessment, you should gather evidence that proves your home is over-assessed before submitting your case to the local property appraiser.
- Check the property details.
- You can start by double checking the information about your property that’s given on the tax assessment. Are features like the square footage, number of bedrooms and lot size listed correctly? A simple error in these details can cause a big discrepancy in the assessed value of your home.
- Look at comparable home values.
- You can also check whether your property tax assessment is accurate by comparing it to the market value of similar homes nearby. When the local property appraiser determines the value of your home, they use “comparables,” which are other homes with similar locations and characteristics that have recently sold.
- Build your case.
- If you find that your property’s assessed value is significantly higher than the market value of comparable homes, you may have a strong case for appealing the assessment. Even if your assessed value is not far off from the local market value, you may still be able to lower it if there are issues with your property that haven’t been accounted for, such as a leaky basement.
- Consult a professional.
- You can go through the dispute process yourself, but for complex tax issues like this, it’s best to have a tax professional to guide you. And if you’re unsure about the value of your home, you can hire your own appraiser to get an accurate assessment of your property’s value.
- Submit the appeal.
- The process for submitting an appeal varies by state and county, but you should send your appeal along with documentation of the evidence you’ve gathered to your local property appraiser’s office before the deadline. It may be a few months before you receive a verdict.
5 Steps to Dispute Your Property Tax
Benefits and Risks of Disputing Your Property Tax
Some homeowners choose not to dispute their property taxes because they don’t feel that it’s worth the time and effort. However, it’s important to note that correcting an inaccurate property assessment doesn’t just impact this year’s tax bill, but future property taxes as well.
Property taxes tend to rise over time, so a higher assessment can make your tax liability even larger year over year. If you’re able to lower your assessment by appealing, you can reduce the value that goes towards calculating property taxes each year until your home is reassessed.
There is very little risk associated with disputing your property tax assessment. If your appeal is rejected, the worst that can happen is your tax bill stays the same. Appealing an assessment cannot increase your property taxes.