Reduce Your Property Tax

Instead of having a Boston Tea party in your kitchen, check out the Homeowner’s Property Tax Reduction Kit (PDF, 1.4 MB). It’s got ways for you to check your assessment, identify errors, and how to appeal it. A state-by-state guide gives you the breakdown and specific laws for where you live.

Homeowner’s Property Tax Reduction Kit (PDF) [American Homeowner's Association]

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  1. Saboth says:

    Very interesting. I look forward to sitting down and reading this. My friend at work and I are always talking about property tax, and how you can’t control it, and how unfair it seems to be to be taxed on something you own, on your own land. Should provide some insight to the process, which frankly…seems pretty mysterious to most people. On a side note..looks like we got a 29.99 value for free?

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Saboth: “and how unfair it seems to be to be taxed on something you own, on your own land.”

      Out of curiosity, how does this seem unfair? Especially given it’s one of the oldest forms of taxation ….

  2. cherveny says:

    May be useful here in Ohio. North East Ohio is one of the top foreclosure areas of the nation, and yet some of the local county auditors are declaring that property rates are on an increase, even though all realtors are stating exactly the opposite.

  3. HiPwr says:

    I was relieved to find out this year that the housing crisis had ended when I got my assessment. My house is appreciating in value! Hooray!

    I know a man that fought his assessment for months and the end result was that the surrounding neighbors’ assessed values were increased to match his.

  4. Shrew2u says:

    On a side note..looks like we got a 29.99 value for free?

    TANSTAAFL – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

    The guide is provided as a bonus to those who registered with the American Homeowner’s Association. The AHA provides a 30-day free trial membership which will convert to a paid membership with a monthly fee unless canceled within the trial period.

    Q: Did the AHA itself provide this direct, non-membership-hooked link?

  5. fatcop says:

    @Shrew2u

    Well they are not going to be able to charge us for looking at the document, if that’s your concern.

  6. Saboth says:

    I just don’t like the way they do assessments here (Lynchburg, VA). Basically they just find comparable houses in your area that have sold recently, and average the price. Your house could be in disrepair, have many problems, but since your neighbors have fixed up their homes, your house is worth as much. They don’t actually come to your house and appraise it. The picture they have of my house was taken 5 years ago when I first moved in. Nevermind the fact, you have all manner of houses on my street…brick, 2 stories, 3 stories, 3,000 sq foot, 1,000 sq foot….I just don’t think this is a fair way to do it. Nevermind the fact cities typically appraise a house below what it is worth in case the market is off a bit, but lately they are inching up to above market value or on the money.

    • milqtost says:

      @Saboth: Like it or not that’s how they do it almost everywhere. They don’t have the resources to inspect every house individually – if you want that done you can pay for an appraiser and they will do that for you and make allowances for improvements, upgrades or poor conditions. At least here most counties will accept that (although doing a more thorough market analysis works too).

      And the funny thing is that exact scenario also works when people price their houses for sale – which is why you have these dumpy places being offered at a high price because the well-kept immaculate “house down the street sold for that much.”

    • orlo says:

      @milqtost: Regressive taxes are unfair. My city recently was required by the state to physically inspect properties. The inspection was outsourced for six-figures and the inspector just spent 30seconds pretending to count the rooms (she didn’t even look).

      Compare the assessments to the real estate sales: the lowest assessed houses always sell for substantially below their assessed value, the mid-range houses sell close to their assessment, and those assessed at high values sell for more. For every 20 rundown houses over-assessed by 50% there is one mansion that sold for a million above its valuation.

  7. Onion_Volcano says:

    I live in Augusta County, VA and all of our houses got assessed this year crazy high. My townhome went up 24%. Some peoples property assessed 200% more than the last assessment.

    There is a lawsuit pending regarding the methods used. Basically the assessment company just did a drive by and put whatever they wanted down. The lawyer is trying to get them to roll back to the 2005 assessment level.

  8. Eliamias says:

    Does this work in California still? I have a friend living there with declining property value and she’s not even attempting to get a re-evaluation because of the state’s financial situation.

  9. onesix18 says:

    As someone who (among other things) challenges commercial real estate taxes for a living, I can honestly say that anyone who does not appeal their property’s fair market value (thus lowering their taxes, hopefully) is likely leaving money on the table right now. I have done it on my home successfully in the past and plan to again this year. The downside is that there will be a surge of appeals…so municipalities will be further constrained, and appeal review may be slow-going.

    I haven’t read the linked guide, but I have a couple tips of my own:

    1. Most of what you need to know to file an appeal can be downloaded from your assessor’s website. It also helps to call the assessor’s office.

    2. Find comps.

    3. Don’t be timid.

    Good luck!

  10. Garbanzo says:

    “A state-by-state guide gives you the breakdown and specific laws for where you live.” Ehhn…not so much. The state-by-state guide gives you the address, phone number, and URL for a government department for each state.

  11. Shrew2u says:

    @fatcop:

    Whether anyone would be charged for looking was the focus of neither the question raised nor my response. The guide is “free” but not free of strings – it is meant as a hook to reel in registrants. Given that the AHA is not reeling in registrants from site visitors who follow the Consumerist link, it’s a fair question as to whether the AHA provided the direct link to Consumerist.

    (And I’ll go a step further and answer my own question: if not…the AHA may not appreciate Consumerist posting the direct link. In which case, they need to secure their goodies better.)

  12. Ed Chan says:

    Los Angeles County says they will do it for you automatically if you bougnt your house between July 2003 and June 2008.

    [assessor.lacounty.gov]

  13. Illiterati says:

    Revaluations are a big issue this year all over the country. In our county, the tax commission revalued houses way over fair market value. Turns out they were basing values on comps from 2006-2007 since there were so few sales in 2008. My 1.5-year-old house increased in value by 20% according to the tax dept. Nonsense!

    The county went into an uproar, a couple thousand angry property owners attended a meeting with the county commissioners, and dozens gave personal examples of outrageous assessements. The upshot was a repeal of the revaluation till the state actually requires it in 2011. We’re all saving a lot of money till then, which is great since unemployment here is close to 11%.

  14. Tom Parker says:

    See how much our Cities, States, Country and households could save on taxes if Marijuana were decriminalized, then sign the petition:
    MarijuanaLobby.org Change we can engage in…