Do a Tax Appeal if you think your taxes are too high.
These days, it’s not unusual for your property taxes to rise steeply. In many areas, while real estate prices are rising, at the same time local governments are seeking more money for schools, law enforcement, fire protection and other needs.
While an increase in your property tax assessment should probably be expected, take a closer look to see if your tax bill has increased fairly. And, if it isn’t, you may want to make a tax appeal.
To determine the value of a property, assessors generally look at:
- The square footage of your home.
- The home’s overall condition.
- Your lot size.
- The renovations and improvements you’ve made.
- What are the recent sale prices in the neighborhood.
If you disagree with the value of your property, here are some items to check:
It’s a possibility that the assessor made errors in the physical description of your property. Additionally, errors may have been made when keying the data into the system. Either way, it can affect your pocketbook. The property may be listed property as being 2,900 square feet when it’s actually 1,900. Or the records may show that your home has four bathrooms when it only has three. In addition, transposition of numbers is another common mistake when recording data. THese are common errors that may help reduce your taxes.
Your tax bill may include assessments for improvements that were never made or are not completed. If you’re adding a room but it’s not yet habitable, your property bill should reflect that.
Does your assessment compare to recent sales prices of similar homes and properties? To assist you in yuur tax appeal, contact me for a list of recent sales. But please remember, I only work in Monmouth or Ocean counties NJ.
Sometimes, a property may have features that lower their value, such as a cracked foundation or proximity to a noisy interstate highway or even, a nearby cell tower.
Don’t assume that any errors you might find are recent errors. A previous owner may have been overpaying as well.
How Do You Appeal
Different jurisdictions have different systems when it comes to tax assessments and tax appeals. If you think your claim is legitimate, act quickly. Many times a municipality will only allow you challenge your assessment for a specific period of time.
Generally, there are one of two ways to pursue tax relief :
- The most common remedy is to request a negotiation with your local tax authority. Bring documentation for your claims, such as photographs, a list of comparable sales and property records that show discrepancies.
- Some jurisdictions hear property tax appeals which are based on a comparative analysis. If you’re successful, you can lower both your current and future tax bill. Also. you may also be able to appeal past property tax bills and get refunds.
As a last resort, there is a large amount of money at stake, and if you have substantial proof of an incorrect property valuation but are unable to succeed through negotiation or appeal, you may want to take your case to court.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Not necessarily. However, many attorneys specialize in tax appeals. And, typically, they charge a percentage of how much they can save you. Remember, there is no set rule as to what an attorney will charge. In fact, you should negotiate that payment in advance. But in my experience, most of the time an attorney will get your taxes reduced more than the typical homeowner can.
Remember to Pay While You Appeal
You might have a good case and a good chance of successfully lowering your tax bill. But, unless you’re otherwise advised in writing by the taxing authority, be sure to pay your assessed taxes on time.