Your city or town will periodically conduct tax assessments on some or all of the properties within the city or town limits. Depending on the laws in your area, you might get a letter about a pending assessment or you might have to read about it in the local newspaper. At the end of the assessment, your city tax department will send you a letter informing you of the outcome of your assessment.
In every city or town in the United States, a tax assessment can be contested by the property owner. Before you decide to go through the process of contesting a tax assessment, there are a few steps you should take to make sure you are doing the right thing.
In most cases, homeowners and tax assessors differ on the value of a particular property. If you feel like your assessed value might be high, then you should do some research to see if your assessed value is in line with the rest of the state. If your value appears to be high in comparison, then you may have a case for fighting a tax assessment. If your new tax amount falls in line with properties similar to yours throughout the state, then you might not have a chance of winning your assessment.
You might find out that your assessment is a bit high, and that could inspire you to fight it. But fighting a tax assessment can take a long time and require you to put in a lot of hours in paperwork and hearings. If, in the end, the best you can realistically expect is a drop of maybe one to five percent in your assessed value, then the fight might not be worth it.
One method for fighting a tax assessment is to have your home appraised by a professional organization, and then compare your recent assessment to a few homes of comparable value in your area. It can cost anywhere from $300 to $500 to have your home appraised, and you would probably have to hire a real estate agent to help you find comparable properties in your area. In the end, if you do not get a reassessment that at least pays back what you spent, then you have wasted your time.
When you call to discuss your assessment, some tax assessors will offer to review your assessment over the phone. After collecting all of the data and taking the time to put together a compelling case, you might want to pass on the phone discussion and request a formal hearing. If you do not get the results you want at your hearing, remember that you can dispute your hearing results as well.
Assessing a home for tax purposes needs to be an exact science. If you receive your assessment report and the description of your home is inaccurate, then you should fight the assessment. It is every homeowner's right to question their home's assessed value, and you should be prepared to collect a lot of data to present your side as you try to get your new tax bill lowered.