Property Tax Tips

Property Tax Tips
  • Opening Intro -

    Paying taxes is an activity that most people don't enjoy, but almost always find a way to get done.

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If you’re a homeowner, you most likely have to pay property taxes to a local government to help pay for roads, schools, and other functions.

While you may be alright with paying something for property taxes, many homeowners feel that they are being overcharged by their local governments. If you feel like your property tax bill is too high, do you just have to suck it up and live with it? Luckily, there are some steps that you can take to lower your property tax bill if you know what you’re doing.

How Property Taxes Are Determined

Property taxes are determined in conjunction with the county appraiser. An appraiser is an elected official that helps determine property values. The appraiser conducts a property tax appraisal to determine the value of the real estate. This value is then multiplied by a millage rate to ascertain how much the tax bill is for the year. The millage rate is set by the local government and can fluctuate from one year to the next, depending on several factors.

What If Your Home Value is Too High

In some cases, the property appraiser can make mistakes. They are only human, and there’s a chance that they’re wrong about the value of your property. If you feel like they have overestimated how much your house is worth, you can file an appeal on your property taxes. Every jurisdiction has a different procedure for filing appeals.

You’ll typically need to fill out a form in order to file an appeal, and you’ll have to get it done by a certain deadline. If you get the paperwork filled out before the deadline, you will then have to present some kind of evidence that helps gauge the value of your house.

Getting a copy of the appraisal report is usually the first step that you should take when appealing your home’s appraised value. If there any obvious discrepancies, this is the first information that you should present. For instance, if the appraisal says that your house is a five bedroom house when it’s only a three bedroom house, this could make a difference in the value.

If you don’t have any hard evidence that shows what your house should be worth, then it may be difficult to win your appraisal. Showing data related to comparable sales in your area might be helpful as well.

Hearing

Another step in reducing your property tax rate is attending a hearing in your defense. In many jurisdictions, you’ll be required to present your case in front of an arbitrator or judge. The judge will hear your arguments as well as those of the appraiser and then make a ruling. In some cases, your property tax rates can be lowered because of this. In other areas, you won’t have to attend a hearing, and everything is simply an administrative process. You’ll be notified of the county’s decision after filing the proper paperwork. In this scenario, it’s simply like asking them to take a second look at your property and see if the value is actually correct.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, you’re going to need to prove your case beyond the shadow of a doubt. The local government is the one making the decision and they could simply leave it at the same rate if they choose. However, you’re never going to get your rate lowered if you don’t take the initiative to get things started. After you complete the process, you could save hundreds of dollars per year.

Shelly Duell is a blogger for the property tax experts of Rio Tax. Rio Tax provides themself as a valuable resource for home and business owners seeking help with their Texas property taxes.

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