Buying a home feels like a big step on the way to financial freedom. When you own a home, you no longer have to pay rent; all the money you pay toward your home mortgage goes toward an asset that you own. It’s a great feeling, but then you get a big, unpleasant surprise when you see the property tax bill.
If you are faced with steep property taxes, do not despair. It is possible to appeal your property tax assessment. As with income taxes, the state, county, or city where you live will take your financial situation when assessing how much you owe in property taxes. If you are elderly or disabled or have some other type of financial hardship, you may be entitled to some form of property tax relief. Even if the amount of tax you are required to pay does not decrease, you may at least be able to pay it in installments.
Property taxes are determined based on the assessed value of your home. Before the 2008 housing market crisis, they used to increase rapidly, because house values were also increasing. Now that the rate of increase of property value is much smaller, property taxes do not increase as quickly, so that is good news when it comes to property taxes. If you think your home’s value has been over assessed, which, according to the National Taxpayers’ Union, over half of homes are, you can appeal the assessment.
If challenging the assessment by yourself sounds like an overwhelming task, you can hire a property tax consultant to do it. Many property tax consultants do not ask you for payment until after they have successfully lowered your property tax bill. Then you pay them a percentage of the money that you saved on property taxes.
If you want to challenge your property taxes, do not wait; deadlines are usually in place, and if you wait too long to appeal your property taxes, your appeal will not be accepted. In some areas, you must appeal within thirty days of receiving the bill, while in other areas, it is 120 days.
Once you start the appeal process, you should look at the assessor’s report carefully and see if you can find any errors or discrepancies. For example, the assessor may have counted bedrooms or bathrooms that are not there; he or she may have counted a half bath as a full bath.