ASK KIM


Cut Your Property Tax

Kimberly Lankford

More than half of the nation's homes are assessed for too much, and a third of property-tax appeals succeed.



The rural county where I live has just reassessed real estate values, and my home's assessment more than tripled, as did most others in the country. The assessed value is now more than my most recent property appraisal. Should I appeal? What information would I have to present?

Go for it. As many as 60% of homes are assessed for too much, estimates Pete Sepp, of the National Taxpayers Union, and about 33% of property-tax appeals succeed.

Procedures vary, but you generally have 30 to 60 days after receiving an assessment notice to file an appeal. Ask the assessor's office for a copy of your property card, which documents the information on which the assessment was based. If the card lists the wrong number of rooms or square footage, for example, you may be able to get your assessment changed without a formal appeal.

If the information is accurate, go to Zillow.com to see how your home's assessment stacks up against others in your neighborhood. If you find that similar homes are assessed at a lower value, you may have a strong case.

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If you spot big discrepancies, check your local assessor's office's records for more details on homes with similar features and lower assessments. Or find comparable assessments and explain why your home's value should be lower, says Sepp, whose organization publishes the helpful brochure How to Fight Property Taxes ($6.95). Some jurisdictions also allow you to submit as evidence market-value information, such as your recent appraisal.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.




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