Most homeowners believe that they pay way too much property taxes. These taxes are real taxes that all homeowners must pay to their local governments. The exact tax amount to be paid will depend on your property’s value. This revenue is typically used for funding local services such as law enforcement, education, fire departments, and local public recreation.
Even though these services are important and benefit all the residents, paying property taxes is burdensome. Over time, these might increase, so even after paying off the mortgage, you will still have to pay the tax bills and also do property valuation according to the changes you made in your property. Fortunately, there are some ways for you to save money. Read on to learn how to lower property taxes:
1. Learn about property taxes
Before you learn how to reduce property taxes, you have to start by knowing what property taxes are. It is important to note that this isn’t something you are paying on the tax return. Instead, you have to pay them through your mortgage payments. A slight portion of your mortgage is set aside in the escrow account every month. The mortgage server or the lender then uses this money for paying your property taxes.
Even though this sounds simple and good, you should note that you won’t be able to take write-offs or make deductions on your property taxes. Moreover, the local government doesn’t have a single formula that they use for assessing the value of their property. So, you will be at the mercy of your assessor or local jurisdiction.
2. Get your property tax card
Not every homeowner knows that they can simply visit their local assessor’s office in town hall and submit a request for viewing or receiving a copy of their property tax cards. This tax card contains the information the town has collected about your property over time, including the size of your lot, the dimensions of the rooms, the type and number of fixtures inside the home, and more. Apart from this, it also covers a section on any notations about the improvements or special features that have been added.
While reviewing this card, you can check for any discrepancies and raise issues with the local tax assessor. This will result in either the assessor conducting a re-evaluation or making the correction and lowering property tax.
3. Promptly appeal the tax valuation
In most counties, assessors offer a limited duration of time during which you can appeal the tax valuation after notices have been mailed out. In some jurisdictions, you have only 30 days to make the appeal. If you don’t make the appeal within the property tax appeal deadline, you will end up paying higher tax. This process includes filling out a form where you have to write why you think the assessor has valued your house too high. Maybe there is structural damage in your house that reduces its valuation. For any help, reach out to Kleiner Law Group today!
4. Take a look at the surroundings
The value of your house will be impacted by the area it is located in. For example, if your house is near a dump or sewage treatment facility, the unpleasant smells will decrease the value of your home. If you live near an airport, the sounds will become an issue and make your house less valuable. In the most recent assessment, make sure that these factors are taken into account. If not, then you have to get a new assessment. Kleiner Law Groupcan help you with this. To know more, you can reach out to us today!
5. Limit your curb appeal
All tax assessors have a set of guidelines that they must follow during the evaluation process. But, this assessment is subjective. So, a more attractive home will get a higher valuation than the ones that aren’t that visually appealing. You must remember that during the evaluation, your property will be compared to your neighbors’. Make sure that you don’t primp your house right before the arrival of the assessor.
The evaluation will be scheduled in advance, meaning that you will have plenty of time to plan ahead. During this time, don’t make any new cosmetic alterations or physical improvements such as stainless steel appliances or new countertops. Wait until the assessor has finished the evaluation.
6. Get an independent appraisal
You should hire someone who can evaluate the value of your house independently. They will come to your house, perform an inspection, and give you a detailed report, including the measurements, photos, and comparable homes in the neighborhood. If you are able to find homes that are more valuable, but pay less, you will have a good reason to file an appeal.
7. Participate during the assessment
While the property tax assessor walks through your house during the evaluation, you should walk with them. Typically, the assessor only focuses on the highlights of the house, like bathroom renovations, and misses the negative aspects. So, while you are walking with them, you should point out the positive as well as negative aspects of your home.
For instance, while you are sharing the highlights of your bathroom, you should also talk about the defects present throughout the house. Once the tax assessor has a clear picture of your house, they will be able to give an accurate estimate of the value of your property.
8. Check out real estate websites
Checking the property tax records of your neighbors won’t be fun for you. Instead, you can try out something that only requires a decent internet connection and free time. While you are building your case to appeal your property assessment, you can check out some properties/houses that have been recently sold in your neighborhood. Don’t just look at the listings and find the actual selling price of the home. It is important to remember the fair market value of your house won’t be the same as the home’s assessed value.
Even though there are some assessments based on home sales, there are others based on the cost of replacing the home, along with the value of its land. Please note that if your neighborhood has big, expensive houses and your home is just a dump compared to those, your house’s value will still increase based on the houses around it.
9. File for the homestead exemption
With a homestead tax exemption, you can get tax relief for your primary residence, in case of the death of a homeowner or bankruptcy. Not every state offers homestead exemptions, and among those that do, the requirements might vary. You must have stayed in the house for over a year and must have a certain income range. If you qualify, only a portion of your property’s value will be taxed.
10. File an appeal
This is the final option you have for lowering your property taxes. Even though it is not possible to argue against the tax rate, it is still possible to file an appeal to change your home’s assessed value. However, since you will need a property tax consultant for this, this process can get really costly. Finding one of the best property tax appeal services might be worth the money in some cases. Once you decide to file an appeal, you must provide an overview of your property’s condition in detail for review. Then, a board will decide whether or not the valuation of your property is reduced.
The process of lowering your property taxes is complicated. If you want to increase the chances of your success, it is best to hire a property tax attorney like the professionals at Kleiner Law Group. With our property tax reduction services and experienced lawyers, you will have the right support to help save you a lot of money on property taxes. Call us today to know more!