Know the process
When it comes to assessments, every town is different. First stop: your local assessor’s office. Find out how they go about assessing properties, what forms you need to file and when the deadlines are for filing that appeal. You typically have 60 days or less from the time your annual assessment was mailed to lodge your appeal.
Get a property card
While at the town hall, get a copy of your property card. This contains all the info the assessor used in determining your home’s assessed value — home’s square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and features such as a garage or finished basement.
Know the neighborhood
Here, we’re talking comps. You need to know what comparable homes have recently sold for. Comparable in terms of size, location, amenities and more. This is where Zillow comes in handy. Find at least 3-5 properties that are comparable to yours, and if you discover that yours is valued at least 5-10 percent higher, then you likely have a case.
Make your case
If you have evidence that your home is over assessed — and the National Taxpayers Union estimates that as many as 60 percent of properties are — ask that it be re-assessed. Are there mistakes on your property card? For example, are there math errors? Is your home classified as “commercial” even though it’s “residential”? Mistakes as these are common (the inaccuracy rates on these cards is between 30-50 percent, according to the NTU). They can be corrected on the spot and you can avoid a formal hearing altogether.
File an appeal
More than a simple math mistake? Think you have a legitimate case? Then file an appeal. While the rules for appeals vary from place to place, most appeals are submitted in written form to county boards with a statement explaining why you feel the evaluation is inaccurate. Support this claim with evidence (property cards and photos can be useful if comparing the condition of your home to others), and succinctly make your case, with your eye on the prize: one in three challenges results in a tax reduction and the average tax savings is $200-$5,000 a year, according to the NTU.
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