By Jesse McCarl
Have you been wondering “How can I lower my property taxes?” Let’s find out if you may qualify!
Lowering your property taxes isn’t a particularly difficult process, but it is a process nonetheless. And with upfront expenses like a potential assessment of your property, it may be a case of “you need money to save money.” But if you the market was more inflated at the time of your home purchase than it is now, lowering your property tax will be beneficial in the long run!
Step 1: Most Common Reason to Try to Lower Property Taxes
The most likely case for lower property taxes is that you bought your house at a time when the economy was doing much better. At that time, you would have paid more for your home than it would be valued at now. Because of the higher price tag, you naturally paid more in taxes. That was all well and good in 2006, but now it’s time to reevaluate and save yourself some cash.
If this is the case for you, congratulations! You most likely qualify for lower property taxes. See a tax lawyer or property assessor to confirm.
Step 2: Other Scenarios to Lower Taxes
If the market wasn’t particularly stronger at the time of home purchase, there are still some other scenarios that could lower your property tax:
People will often find out about strict building limits on their property after moving in. If you’ve been denied a major renovation that would have increased market value, you can use that in a case to lower property taxes. Sure, you won’t have the gazebo and pool house you wanted, but you’ll have smaller tax bills!
Other property qualifications include anything you’ve learned about the lot since moving in. If the lot has poor drainage, is prone to a certain kind of natural disaster, or similar factors, you could be eligible for a discount.
Step 3: Back-Up Plan
None of these scenarios really fit your situation? That’s okay. There are a few more simple tricks that could land you lower property tax:
You can go to the Town Hall and request your property tax card. This is just a record the city has on your property: how many bedrooms, how much you purchased at, any major renovations, and so on. Often, there are simple errors on the card that could be jacking up your tax rate. Request your card and spot any discrepancies. You won’t even have to pay for a new property assessment; the town is obligated to provide you one to remedy their error.
Step 4: Back-Up to the Back-Up Plan
If there are no errors on your property card, then you can also request to see comparable homes in your area. If you have a neighbor with the same number of bedrooms or approximately as much land, see how much they’re paying in property tax. If it’s significantly less, you can investigate why and likely lower your own taxes in the process.
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Tip for Tax
Whenever you get an appraiser to the house – whether you hired one or one was provided by the city – you should make a point to walk through the house with him or her. A lot of the factors that could help your case are often hidden. It’s a lot easier to notice the new windows than it is a slightly warped ceiling. Just make sure to point out the bad and the good. You don’t want to be the annoying complainer tagging along.
Here are some miscellaneous tips to lower your property tax.
When Not to Bother
Now that we’ve discussed all the tips and tricks to lower your property taxes, we should go ahead and throw in a disclaimer: It is possible that a property tax appraisal could backfire on you.
It’s not very common for property tax to go up after a new assessment – barring any major renovations – but it is possible.
The more likely scenario, however, is that there will be sneaky zoning codes your house doesn’t qualify for. You could have someone inspect your house to try to lower taxes, and then find out you don’t have proper handrails on your stairs and need to install new ones.
The best way to dodge the zoning code bullet, and expedite the whole reappraisal process, is to hire a tax lawyer. He or she will be able to assess the house for specific qualifications before you even begin the arduous process. An attorney will cut out all the steps and tricks you would otherwise have to do yourself. And the money you save on taxes will outweigh how much it cost to hire legal consultation.