What to Do When Your Property Tax Bill Increases

What to Do When Your Property Tax Bill Increases

Property taxes can be a burden to many homeowners

The average tax bill in 2017 was $3,400, a 3% increase from the 2016 year. For a variety of reasons they seem to constantly be increasing. Local, state, or federal government laws may change, resulting in an increase in property taxes. When the government reassess the value of the land in your area, you could see your property taxes going up. The value of your neighborhood could also rise as the real estate market changes. Despite the expenses, the good news is that homeowners can do a few things to lessen the pain, and also the burden.

Do Your Research

If numbers just don’t add up, you have the ability to appeal any increase in property taxes. Make sure you do the necessary research to back your appeal. Information regarding other assessments is public knowledge. It may prove helpful looking into other residences and comparing them to yours. A discrepancy may exist which might allow you to argue your case. Bring this information to your assessor and you may qualify for a reassessment.

Tax assessments are all easily accessible on a number of websites such as Zillow. Homeowners can also simply go to the town hall and request their property tax cards from the assessor’s office. This tax card provides homeowners with information about their property over time. Information on this card includes: size of the lot, number and types of fixtures located within the home, the precise dimensions of the room, and special features or notations about home improvements.

Dealing with the Assessor

Tip number one is to walk your home with the assessor. Many people allow the tax assessor to walk around their house without any guidance during the evaluation process. This can turn out to be a mistake. Some assessors will only take notice of the new and improved features of the house while potentially overlooking appliances that are out of date or are damaged.

Don’t Ignore the Assessor

You don’t have to allow the assessor to enter your home, but what might happen is an increase to your tax bill. The assessor may assume that you’ve add fixtures or made big refurbishments. Many cities have policies where the highest possible assessed value will be assigned to that type of property in the case that the residents do not grant full access to the property. After this point, it is now in the hands of the homeowner to argue the evaluation with the town, which is difficult to do unless full access to the property is granted. Furthermore, if you’re going to dispute the issue, be sure you are present for that. Over 50% of evaluation appeals are filed by homeowners that result in no-shows by the owners themselves. If you have permits for all improvements you’ve made throughout the years, there shouldn’t be an issue allowing full access to your home.

At the end of the day it’s difficult to balance the desire for a beautiful house with a tax bill that isn’t overwhelming. Consider these tips and tricks the next time your house is assessed. Also remember that you can usually argue your tax bill. Do your due diligence to see how you can minimize those expenses.