Your local tax assessor bases your property taxes on the value of your home, but certain events can change that value, and your tax assessor isn’t always keyed into hidden factors that affect it. Market conditions, foreclosures, home improvements and even clerical errors can all affect your tax bill. If you feel you have been improperly assessed, you have several options to resolve the issue.
Look at your property tax bill or Notice of Value (NOV). Check the information about your property and ensure the details used to value your home are accurate. For example, if your assessor counted more bedrooms for your property than you have, or incorrectly labels your house as a commercial property instead of residential, you might be able to fix your assessment by simply contacting the assessor’s office and discussing the error.
Research your home’s value. When property values fall, your assessor may not catch the trend in time. Contact a local real estate agent to discuss the sales value of your home or to gather sales price information for properties listed in your neighborhood, or get local sales information online from a real estate website. Calculate an average sales price by adding the sum of all nearby listing prices and dividing the result by the number of homes in your calculation.
Hire an appraiser. A professional third-party appraiser can give you detailed information about the true value of your home. The appraiser performs interior and exterior checks and bases his opinion on the overall condition of your home. He may also be able to give you general information about the values of other homes in your neighborhood. If the assessor values your home higher than current average sales prices or higher than its appraised value, file an appeal with your local assessor. Filing an appeal for reevaluation is free of charge.
Stick to deadlines. You’re allowed to challenge your local tax assessments, but you must do so within a time period established by the assessor’s office. Your property tax bill lists a date that you must respond by if you disagree. Each county office may set different guidelines, so contact your assessor’s office or visit its website for details.
Prepare your case. If you disagree with your tax bill for a reason other than a math or clerical error, gather documents to support your case. Examples of documents to include recent sales information reports and your appraisal report.
Prepare your appeal forms. Go to the website of your local assessor and search for appeal forms. If you’re unable to locate the forms, contact the assessor’s office and ask for instructions on filing an appeal. Complete all forms in entirety and return them to the assessor. Some counties allow you to file your appeal online. The assessor will schedule a date for a hearing. You must attend this hearing to explain your facts and make a formal request for reassessment.
Receive your determination. After your hearing, the assessor reviews your information and documents. The assessor makes a reassessment decision and sends you a written explanation of his determination. If you still disagree, most counties allow you to request an additional hearing to appeal the Notice of Determination.