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Appealing Our Property Tax Assessment (Again)

Written by Nickel - 10 Comments

In what is rapidly becoming an annual rite of passage, I just appealed our property tax assessment. For those that aren’t aware, I did this a year ago in response to an unreasonable jump in the “value” of our house following a renovation, and we got a quick reduction in our assessment.

This time around, the slow real estate market resulted in a year-over-year decrease of about 4%. While any little bit helps when it comes to property taxes, this decrease was considerably less than for other homes on our street. Curious as to why that was, I decided to look closer.

In reviewing the change, I think I might have discovered the culprit… The county seems to think that our house is significantly larger than it really is. Even after accounting for the addition (completed in late 2007), the supposed square footage of our house somehow increased by another 400 sq. ft. during the past year.

Last night, I drafted a letter to the County Board of Tax Assessors outlining our case. Assuming that things proceed like they did last year, we should have a response within about a week. If we’re not happy at that point, we have the option of appearing before the Board of Equalization. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

Published on June 16th, 2009
Modified on August 28th, 2009 - 10 Comments
Filed under: Real Estate, Taxes

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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10 Responses to “Appealing Our Property Tax Assessment (Again)”

  1. 1
    Mike Says:

    I live on the county line so I am taxed by 2 counties. Some how half my house went up in value while the other half stayed the same…

    I should have contested mine but I didn’t.

  2. 2
    My Journey Says:

    Nickel,

    There is a bigger story than just your house. This is a huge problem where I Live (long Island). The surrounding counties had no problem raising taxes and thus raising spending…but what happens when houses start to fall? MUCH HARDER TO CUT SPENDING!

    I think you will see this huge bubble has houses level off or even fall more

  3. 3
    JerryB Says:

    My county is seeing so many appeals that they have a PDF of the appeal application available on the front page of the county website.

  4. 4
    Ron Says:

    One year our property taxes took a HUGE jump (doubled). I was out of town but my wife went to the assessor’s office who told her that was just the way it was. She kept talking to the woman behind the counter and finally asked, “Can I come around and see what you’re looking at on the computer screen?” Once she did, she realized that the assessor had our name and address but the property wasn’t ours. It was our neighbor’s down the street — who has a 6,000 sq ft home, a pool, a pool house, and a guest house. The woman just laughed and said, “Oh this happens all the time.”

    Are you kidding me? Makes me wonder who else they’ve screwed up that DIDN’T ask any questions.

  5. 5
    Andrew Says:

    After completing the first full year in my first house I received my notice that property tax value had jumped 20k. Thats really not an outlandish jump since the first year in the house I was billed lower since it was Single Family Inventory.

    The value they have me at is actually very close to the contract price of the home from last year. The point of contention is that the rest of the homes in my neighborhood have dropped approximately 12% in value from last year.

    When I called about it they said since my contract was last year they would value based on the contract price, but refused to take comperable sales or their own data into consideration.

    I’ve filed my appeal, but the Appraisal District is so swamped they said it may not be until October that my case will be heard….

    I guess it’s a sign of the time.

  6. 6
    Mike Says:

    How do you know what everybody else on your block is paying in property taxes? Also, are you going to consider asking for a larger reduction given the falling home values?

  7. 7
    Nickel Says:

    Mike: Our state has a public database that provides access to assessed values on a county-by-county basis. Because property tax assessments are typically based on “fair market values,” and because so few houses have sold in this area over the past year, it’s difficult to pin down exactly how much values have truly fallen.

  8. 8
    Matt Jabs Says:

    It’s important for homeowners to take action against municipal “mistakes” such as this.

    In my experience they will grab more tax money anywhere they can get it so we have to be diligent. Your case and action is a positive influence.

  9. 9
    KC Says:

    I recently moved from Shelby Co (Memphis) TN to NC. I had my 2 bdr/2.5 bath townhouse on the market for 6 months for $165k. I received no offers. The county then appraised my home for $187,000 (it had been 152k in 2005). I did an informal review stating just what I did above that no one even nibbled at my $165k asking price for 6 mos. My house finally sold for $148k and two days after the closing date I received a letter from the Shelby Co. assessor saying they had denied my request and that my home (which was no longer mine) was, in their opinion, worth $187k. Fortunately this is no longer my problem.

    On a side note my home in NC was up for reappraisal a month after we purchased it – they came in a little closer, but were still 2% over the actual sale price. So the moral of this story is do your homework cause it seems many gov’t entities are over appraising houses (go figure). In the past the tax value of the home has always been considered to be lower than the market value of a home – no more.

  10. 10
    John Says:

    Cities and Towns are hurting with the drop in home values. I don’t know about other areas, but here in Connecticut we have reevaluations every 5 years but taxes can raise every year – due to the city council voting to raise the mill rate. Problem here is that yes, when we get reevaluated the house value may drop, but guess what? The city council will just vote to raise the mill rate, so we will pay the same, but most likely MORE than we did when our house was valued higher. Is this how it works in other areas of the country? I am so sick of this taxation, homeowners never get a break. I have heard in some areas of the US, your homeowners property taxes only go up at the time of reevaluation. Please someone tell me where this happens, I am seriously considering moving and need to know where I can reasonably afford to live . Thanks so much, great blog.

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