How To Appeal Property Taxes
With property values falling across the US in recent years, it's more important than ever to know how to appeal property taxes. This is especially true for anyone that has recently purchased a foreclosure home, as its assessed value (which is used to calculate property taxes) may be far higher than the true current value of the home.
- Do your research. The first step in how to appeal property taxes is to make sure that you even have a case. What may seem like high property taxes to you could just be average, depending on the part of the country you live in and its property tax system. Most US counties have their property records online now and a Google search for "(Your county) appraisal district" or "(Your county) tax office" will help you find the online Web site for your county where you can search records to find property info and property tax data. If your county doesn't have its information online, you'll need to pay a visit in person to the tax office or appraisal district office.
- What to look for. When researching info for how to appeal property taxes, start with your own home when looking at the county records. Look up what the county appraises your home at and the property taxes assessed, then look up the same information for neighbors or friends. Try to compare apples to apples; if you have a three bedroom, two bath 1,500 sq. ft. house, look up similar houses and note what their property is appraised for and what their taxes are. Be aware that other homeowners may qualify for exemptions that you don't, so they may be paying lower property taxes due to that.
- Build your case. If you still believe you have a case, the next step in how to appeal property taxes is to build your case. In the vast majority of instances where you can successfully appeal property taxes, it's because you recently purchased a home for an amount far below the assessed value the county had assigned to it in the past. This commonly happens with foreclosure sales but can also be because of overall declining values for homes in certain markets. To successfully appeal your case, you'll need to prove that the fair market value you paid for the house is significantly lower than the country's higher assessed value. Research recent sales for similar properties in your area (this can be done at the tax assessors office or county courthouse where all deeds are recorded as well as online in some areas) and compile information that backs up your claim that the assessed value of your home is too high.
- Present your case. The last step in how to appeal property taxes is to appear before your local county board and make your case. Each county must provide a forum for homeowners to contest their property taxes, so contact your local tax office or appraisal district to find when the next meeting is scheduled. Bring copies of your supporting evidence and state your case. In most counties you'll have to wait for a formal decision as to whether or not your appeal is successful, so it can take a few months after you present your appeal to find out whether it has been granted or not.