Learn how to dispute property taxes in order to save money now and in the future. As property values fluctuate, your current property tax assessment may not be accurate. If you feel your assessment is too high, you can successfully dispute the valuation, resulting in lower taxes now and possibly for years to come. Disputing property taxes requires a little research, but all the information you need should be available online or at the tax assessor's office.
- Verify that all of the information on your assessment is correct. Pay close attention to the description of the property: the square footage listed for your house and any improvements such as decks, the number of bathrooms and bedrooms and the description of any outbuildings. If you are credited with any improvements which you haven't made, or if the description of the house is incorrect, you have good grounds to dispute your property taxes.
- Compare your valuation with that of your neighbors. Neighborhood is one contributing factor in determining your investment. If your house is valued more than neighbors' houses of similar size and condition, you have grounds to dispute your property taxes. The assessed value of your neighbors' homes is a matter of public record. Many counties make this information available online. You should be able to search the property tax records by address. If the records aren't available online, you can go to your county tax assessor's office and request the records.
- Collect examples of comparable properties in your area that have recently sold for less than the valuation of your property. Real estate assessments are supposed to be based on real market value, so if you can prove the market value is less than the assessed value, you may succeed in disputing your property taxes. Look for properties in the same or similar neighborhoods that are approximately the same size and age as your home, in similar condition. You'll need to look for sales that occurred within six months to a year of the assessment period, which can be as much as 18 months before your tax bill arrives. You can find this information in the property tax records, which will record the selling price of a home every time it sells. Local real estate agents may also be able to help you find comparable properties.
- File your property tax dispute with the county tax assessor's office by the deadline shown on your tax bill or assessment form. Some counties require a specific form while others will allow you to dispute your property taxes with a letter. As part of your dispute, you should include evidence to support your claim. This can include information about neighbor's assessments and how they differ from your own, information about comparable sales, or photographs showing areas in which your property differs from the description in the assessment.
- Appeal your property tax dispute if it's denied. Every county has an appeals process. If your dispute is initially denied, you may be granted a hearing to consider the facts again. Be prepared to present your evidence to a review board and to defend your dispute.
If you're diligent about collecting evidence to support your assertion that your property appraisal is incorrect, you have a good chance of winning your property tax dispute. If you should lose your dispute this year, don't be afraid to try again next year. You may dispute your property taxes each year if you feel you have a good case.