Those of you who own property know that sometimes the property tax bill shows up and it is not pretty. Property taxes keep on rising, even while the housing economy slides deeper into a slump. What gives and what can you do about it? Money Magazine has 7 ways that you can lower your property tax bill, and I will add my 8th to the bottom of the list, which is possibly the most important!
1. Learn your system – Taxing authorities use different methods to calculate home values, so learn what they are doing in your area.
2. Get your assessor’s evidence – Visit the tax man’s office and ask for the evidence used to value your home.
3. Make sure the description is right – Three vent stacks on the roof? That must mean three full baths. Make sure what they write down about your place is correct.
4. Build your case – Gather records, look at other homes in your neighborhood, talk to your neighbors. Normally you only have about 60 days to make your case!
5. Meet the assessor informally – Go over the evidence you found in support of a lower value. If the assessor won’t budge, make him explain why.
6. File the appeal – Hand deliver it and get a receipt or use certified mail. Prepare visuals with photos of your home and the comparable homes, then write out and rehearse your presentation. Keep it to eight minutes or less. Brevity will score you points and leave time for the board to ask questions.
7. You lost? – First, you’ll likely appeal to a state agency. If that fails, you’ll probably have to go to court.
And what would I add to the list to make it an even 8? Put a broken down car on the front yard, paint the house bright purple, get some goats, put a porta-potty in the backyard, flood your basement with a garden house, spray paint graffiti all over the neighborhood. If the first 7 on the list doesn’t lower your bill, there are always other ways! 😉