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Are You Paying Too Much in Property Taxes?

September 13th

Many homeowners have been scratching their heads over the mysteriously rising property taxes. Property taxes all across the United States have been steadily increasing, despite dropping home prices. In fact, they increased by nearly 20 percent between 2005 and 2009, while home prices fell by 31 percent. This is according to an April study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders.

This is a shocking trend for the millions of homeowners who are currently struggling against foreclosure and rising tax debt. Yet there is little that can be done about the property-tax rate. Local governments generally do not measure property values every year, leaving assessments out of date. Some governments even have limits on annual property-tax increases. All this means that property taxes frequently reflect an old economy – one that was more robust.

Checking Assessments

However, even though the property-tax rate is unchangeable, homeowners can get their assessments lowered. By appealing to the local assessor, taxpayers can potentially get the value of their home reassessed, resulting in a lower tax bill.

The most important factor in successfully appealing your assessment is fact-checking the assessor’s work. In fact, approximately half of all successful appeals result from the locating of errors in the current assessment.

Assessments are inherently superficial. While local officials can assign home values through door-to-door appraisals, aerial photos, or computer models, they often choose simpler methods. Quite frequently, homes are actually assessed based on recent home sales in the area. This method can lead assessors to overlook key factors that might influence the value of your property, thereby making mistakes in the final assessment.

By checking their work and providing clear documentation of anything that might affect the value of your home, it is possible to be successful. If you are unsure, consult with a tax lawyer for clearer instructions on how to review your assessment and re-appraise your property.


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