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Methods to reduce property taxes

Owning a home is expensive as property taxes can be extremely onerous. Annual property tax bills tend to steadily increase over time. Even if you pay off your mortgage, the taxes keep coming. Most homeowners don’t realize they should pay less and don’t understand how their taxes are calculated. Most homes take their tax assessments at face value, and more often than not, your property is overvalued.

Here, we’ve provided some tips you can follow to challenge your assessment and save money.

1) Understand the process

The town halls send liquidation notices in the first months of the year, although the schedules may vary. The notice provides contact details to contact in the event you disagree with the assessment. It also provides the details related to filing an appeal and provides a specific time period during which you can contest or file a case. The time frame varies in different areas. In some places, it’s two weeks; in others, it can be up to six weeks. If you miss this appeal window, you may have to wait until next year to protest. Also, check how your property is assessed in your area.

2) Request property tax card and review it

The property card is often included with the assessment notice; however, this can also be accessed online. Alternatively, you can go to the town hall and request a copy of the property tax card from the local assessor’s office. The card contains information used by the appraiser to determine the appraised value of your home, such as the size of the property, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms along with their dimensions, the garage, etc.

Check the card for discrepancies, as these errors are common. If there is anything wrong, raise the issue with your tax advisor. He/She will make the correction and a reassessment will take place.

3) Gather evidence from houses in the neighborhood

You can research 5-10 houses that are comparable in size and value to your house in the neighborhood. Check the price at which they have been sold. You can also check the cost of comparable houses on real estate sites and have the photos of the houses with the price and size. If your home has been overvalued, you can make your case and request a review by the appraiser.

4) Do not build or add to the house

If you make structural changes to your home, there will be an increase in your tax bill. The property tax bill is directly related to the value of your home. If you add a new bedroom, deck, porch, pool, or any permanent fixture to your home, your tax burden will increase. You can research the cost of a new addition in terms of property taxes prior to construction at your local tax and building department.

5) Appeal to yourself

You should appeal yourself rather than seek professional help, as outside experts such as attorneys, appraisers, and consultants charge fees of up to 50% of the first year’s reduction. Also, some appeal boards are sympathetic to homeowners who represent themselves.

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