Disputing Tax Assessments

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Disputing Tax AssessmentsHave you ever wondered how the government taxes property? Or how they come up with the amount of taxation in which to place on a property? This process is performed by a person commonly referred to as an ‘assessor.’ These workers are appointed by your city’s municipal government in order to properly assess and make a guesstimate as to how much your property is worth, and they use that number to determine the amount of tax that should be paid on any particular piece of property within his or her jurisdiction. The amount of money that you pay towards your taxes is then funneled back in to the community in order to pay for public buildings, parks, government workers, etc.

When Your Assessment is Wrong

While real estate is generally on the rise, your assessment may not be on the mark.  If you feel this is the case, then you need to be quick with your timing of your assessment dispute. If the city has already derived the tax value from the assessment on your property, it’s already too late to dispute it. Instead, you must wait one year and file a dispute before your property comes up for assessment again.

To start the process, contact the Tax Assessor’s Office in your area and let them know that you wish to appeal your assessment. Depending on your local procedural rules, they may agree to meet with you informally. Often, particularly in smaller cities, an assessment can be adjusted over the course of a brief face to face meeting. In other areas where this is not permitted, they will then send you the necessary forms in the mail to schedule an official hearing. No matter what system your jurisidiction uses, in order to successfully dispute your assessment you will need to make your case to the city. This means you need evidence.

Hire a Professional

An independent property appraiser can provide strong support for your case. The primary downside is the expense, as an independent appraiser will cost in the range of $250-400. To put this in context, if you are expecting to reduce your evaluation by $20000 and you pay 0.3% you will only save $60/year in tax in the first year.

Do it Yourself

If you don’t want to spend any money, you can often make a successful case by noting the fluctuations and market prices of homes in your area and how much they’re being sold for. These prices can often jump around from highs to lows depending on how the housing market is doing. Especially in older communities, houses that once cost a fortune are now selling for pennies on the dollar. If comparable properties in your neighbourhood are selling for lower than your assessment, this can also be included as evidentiary support in your dispute against your tax assessment.

It’s essential that you take advantage of every bit of savings you can in this day and age. The taxation of your property shouldn’t remain the same if the market is in decline. The small amount of money you pay for documentation and appraisal can be far less than the amount which you would be paying year after year with your current property assessment.