How to Handle Your Residential Real Estate Tax Appeal

 

Is your county issued tax bill too high?

 

Follow this real estate tax appeal guide to help lower your payment!

 

Receive assessment notice

  1. Your Assessment Notice will arrive in the mail.  
  2. If your county has a website, you can also keep an eye on the website where data is sometimes available. 
  3. You are now probably saying either “wow, I didn’t realize my home is that valuable!” or “my value is too high!”.  
  4. Either way, keep in mind that your property tax bill is going to be based on the assessment you just received – so you want to make certain it is fair. 
  5. Do not worry:  you have a legal right to challenge the Assessor’s opinion of value. 

 

Research your county and assessor policy

  • Time is of the essence! Many counties only give 30 days from the posting date to file an appeal.  
  • Visit your local county assessor website and research their policies on assessment and appeals, OR call the assessor’s office to request information on how to obtain appeal forms and what information you will need to include. 
  • Research nearby comparable properties and consider if there is any risk of an increase if you file an appeal.  Have you recently renovated your kitchen or finished out the basement? It may be prudent to stay quiet. 
  • Talk to your neighbors with similar-size properties to see what is on their assessment notices.  Is your property being assessed equitably? 
  • Ask a realtor friend to find 3-4 comparable properties that have sold recently. 
  • You can often find a plethora of historical information on the county website. 
  • Take note of how the value of the property has changed over the years.  If it has steadily increased over the past few assessment cycles or significantly jumped up all at once, you may be able to build a case to appeal your property.  

 

A note on building your case

  • It may seem counter-intuitive, but if you want to lower that tax bill you need to look for reasons as to why your property is worth less than the assessor’s opinion of value. Look at your property through the eyes of a picky buyer.  What would they notice?  Below are some ideas for support information that would help you present your appeal to the County: 
  • Comps – recent sales prices for comparable properties  
  • Pictures of damage and/or problem areas 
  • Do you need repair or replacement of your roof or driveway? 
  • Is water coming into your basement whenever it rains? 
  • Are your kitchen and bathrooms outdated? 
  • Have you had an appraisal done in the past 3 years? 
  • Do you have bids for repair or renovation on any maintenance issues? 

 

File an Appeal

  • File the appeal form with your opinion of value and include any support information you have gathered.  Keep in mind – Counties have an appeal deadline and you must make sure to submit your appeal form on time! 
  • Receive notice of a hearing date and time when you will meet with a county representative to discuss your property. 
  • Arrive prepared and positive.   
  • Bring copies of your support data, photos, etc. 
  • Have the attitude that both you and the hearing officer are interested in setting the correct assessment value. 
  • Results and next steps – there are several results that could occur:  
  • You and the hearing officer negotiate a value and both sign a settlement stipulation. You are finished!  Your tax bill will be based on the lower value you agreed to. 
  • You and the hearing officer cannot agree, in which case you may have the option to wait for a supervisor to discuss your value with you.  In many cases, the county will consider your support information and opinion of value and mail you a decision letter some time after you meet with them.   
  • If you and the county representatives cannot agree, and you also do not agree with the value shown on the decision letter, you can continue the appeal to the state level. 
  • The decision letter will refer you to the appropriate state level appeal forum. 
  • Keep in mind that if your property is held in a trust or estate, an attorney must sign the state level appeal form. 
  • A state level appeal is a different process which we are not covering in this post.  For more information go to your state’s tax commission, appeal board, or tax tribunal website. 

 

If you have a commercial property…

There will be quite a bit of additional support documentation needed.  Check out our real estate tax appeal service page to learn how The Brennan Group can help you appeal your real estate tax bill.