Property Tax Appeal Tips to Reduce Your Property Tax Bill

Property taxes are calculated by multiplying your municipality’s millage rate by it’s most recent assessed value. That means, unfortunately, that high property taxes are directly proportionate to two metrics: the value of your home and the tax rates of the city where it’s located. You may be able to lobby your city for lower taxes, but that could be time-consuming and there are no guaranteed results. In most cases, you want the value of your investment to remain high or appreciate. There are, however, a few things that you might be able to do to reduce your property tax bill. Here are a few.

Apply for a Homestead Exemption
If you reside in your home, you may be eligible for a homestead exemption. This allows property owners to deduct a fixed amount, determined by the state, from the assessed value of their home prior to calculating the tax bill.

For example, if you have a home with an assessed value of $300,000 and you have a $25,000 homestead exemption, your property tax bill will be based on a $275,000 assessed value. You can only use the homestead exemption on your primary residence. If you own multiple properties, you can only claim the one you reside in.

Appeal the Assessed Value of Your Property
You may not be able to do much about the tax rate for your city, but if you feel that your municipality government has overvalued your property, you can appeal the assessed value. This could, of course, backfire if they come back with a higher assessed value, so you will want to attempt this judiciously. Here are a few cues that can tell you that the city you live in assessed your property for too much money.

Similar properties in your area are selling for less than the assessed value
Your property appraised for less than the assessed value (typically, the reverse is true).
You believe that there was an error on your assessment (i.e. improper zoning)
The real estate market has fallen since the assessment
If the opposite of any of these is true, do not request a new assessment. You could talk yourself into a higher tax bill.

Look for Other Exemptions
There are often exemptions that give you a full or partial exemption for property taxes. Many states provide property tax exemptions for senior citizens. In some instances, students receive a property tax exemption. It’s not uncommon for military veterans to receive home property tax breaks. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for instance, provides an exemption for honorably discharged veterans who have established a need for the exemption.

Turn a Misfortune to Your Advantage
If you have a casualty to your property that diminishes its value, you may have grounds to appeal your assessed value. That could be an accident, a fire, or a weather-related incident. Damaged property has a diminished value and that could work to your advantage.

Contact an Attorney to Fight for Your Rights
If you own property and you feel that you’re being overtaxed, you may require help. Dealing with local governments can be extremely frustrating and fruitless. A property tax attorney can press your case and possibly have some of your back taxes returned to you.

BY JAMIE RICHARDSON For Realty Biz News

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