Bloomberg reported that property taxes rose twice as fast in 2022 than in 2021. As a result, each state’s Department of Revenue and local governments are collecting more revenue than ever in property taxes – and homeowners are noticing.
However, the National Taxpayers’ Union says the government over-assesses 30-60% of taxable properties! So if your 2022 tax year bill scared you, know that you have the right to appeal your tax bill as a property owner.
Let’s explore how to dispute your property taxes so you can reduce your tax burden.
Understand How Property Tax Assessments Work
Property tax assessments often vary by jurisdiction. Typically, the County Assessor or Board of Equalization in your state will send a tax assessor to evaluate your property within the first few months of each year. The agency that conducts the assessment depends on the type of property you own.
The assessment identifies the current value of the property. Then, the government multiplies the value of your real property (the land and everything permanently attached to it) by the “mill rate,” or the amount of tax payable per dollar of the assessed value of a property based on “mills.” The mill rate varies depending on the type of property. For example, personal properties pay a different rate than commercial properties.
The amount of taxes you owe can increase or decrease if your home’s value or the mill rate changes.
Verify Your Property’s Details
The tax assessment uses several property details to determine the current sale price of your home. These include:
- Lot size
- Number of bedrooms
- Square footage
- Type of property and its use (i.e., agricultural land, residential property)
If you don’t know some of this information about your home, you can visit the county clerk’s office. The county clerk is responsible for maintaining all the state records, including property records.
An error with the details of your home could cause a discrepancy in the assessed value of your property. Should you notice a mistake, you’ll want to go through the assessment appeal process to get an accurate tax bill.
Research Comparable Home Sales
To know if the appraiser gave a fair market value for your home, look at similar properties in your neighborhood. The valuation of your home should be similar to homes with comparable features.
Location is also a primary factor in determining your tax rate. For instance, the average property tax rate in 30 states is 1% or lower. This includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Missouri. However, in some states like Illinois or New Jersey, the rate is more than 2%.
The bottom line: don’t compare your home to those outside your county.
If you’re unsure how to research comparable properties, ask a team member at The Associates Home Loan, Inc. for a little guidance! We’ll point you in the right direction.
Check for Eligible Tax Breaks
There are many exemptions the government allows you to apply to your property tax bill to reduce it. Some states even have exemptions for specific groups of people, such as:
- People with disabilities
You could also be eligible for a homestead exemption.
However, many tax breaks aren’t automatic, so even if you showed proof of eligibility the prior year, you’ll need to show it again for each subsequent year. It may be a pain to submit eligibility yearly, but it’s worth it because it has the potential to save you a lot of money!
Determine the Appeal Deadline and Process
As mentioned, the assessment and appeals processes differ depending on your location. This includes the filing deadline to dispute property taxes.
Most counties offer 30-45 days to file a dispute after receiving the bill. Regardless of where you live, the appeals window is short, so you must act fast if you want to file an appeal.
As soon as you receive your tax bill, familiarize yourself with the appeals process so you don’t miss the deadline.
Build Your Case
If you want to appeal, gather your documentation – it’s your responsibility to prove the assessment is incorrect.
Even if your home’s value is similar to the local market value, you could still have an appeals case. For instance, if your home’s foundation has significant structural problems, this would decrease your property value and change the assessment.
Consider Seeking Professional Help
Even though you now know how to dispute your property tax bill, hiring a tax professional to help may still be best. Complex tax issues like this can be challenging even if you have all the information. You want to be the most prepared when you present your evidence to the county board of appeals for a tax reduction.
Of course, you should still do your research. You can gain helpful information from any .gov website from your state, county, or municipality. However, a professional will know how to use this information to help you lower your tax bill.
Additionally, you may not know this, but if you have a monthly mortgage payment, you’re already contributing to your property tax bill. This is because your lender takes money from your monthly payment and puts it into an escrow account.
The payments for your property taxes and homeowners insurance automatically withdraw from the escrow account, so you never miss a payment.
However, this process makes paying for property taxes and insurance a bit out of sight, out of mind. Having a professional handle a dispute can be much less of a headache, especially if the government eventually awards you a refund for already overpaying your bill.
Submit Your Property Tax Appeal
Although the appeal process is different by state and county, you’ll likely need to fill out an appeal form, then present evidence that there was an error in your tax bill.
Take the form and supporting documents to the property appraiser or county assessor’s office in person before the deadline.
Explore More Ways to Reduce Your Housing Payment
Never overpay your tax bill again! Since the process can be time-consuming and tedious, hiring a tax professional is helpful. They may also have other tips on reducing your bill further.
If you can’t afford your property tax bill, even after a successful dispute, contact us at The Associates Home Loan of Florida. We may be able to get you into some different loan terms to lower your payment and make it more budget-friendly! We help Floridians with all their lending needs, especially those who have faced financial difficulties and credit challenges in the past.