Want Lower Property Taxes? Check This Out

Finding ways around property taxes

Image from phillyburbs.com.

Image from phillyburbs.com.

The other day I read that Alpine, NJ, despite being the most expensive place to buy a house in the country, has the among the lowest property taxes. When a city official was questioned about this, he said they were able to keep property taxes down, he said they focused on “not becoming a full-service town.

Of course, being on the lower end of the wealth scale, I thought “That isn’t fair that these people who own $4 million homes and obviously have tons of money get to pay less in property taxes!” Today I came across an article about property taxes on CNN Money and discovered that there’s a way for the common folk to get lower property taxes, too.

Dispute property’s assessed value

Beth Braverman from Money Magazine says the only way to get your property tax decreased is to get the estimated value of  your property decreased. You’ve got to come up with a good argument for why the property assessment amount should be decreased, and you must win.

This won’t be as easy as getting an online cash advance, but it sounds like it can be done. Home prices have dropped 27 percent since 2006, so it makes sense that if your property value has dropped, you should not have to pay as much property tax.

Learn the rules

First off, you must appeal your  tax bill within 30 to 90 days from when you get it, depending on where you live. Find out the rules in your area regarding how long you have to make an appeal as well as how much your assessment has to be off by in order to file an appeal.

Make sure you carefully read over your official property record and check to make sure it is accurate. Then, check out zillow.com and compare your homes value to similar homes.

The faster the better

The sooner you file your appeal, the closer to the front of the hearing line you’ll be. Most areas require that you show up in person for your hearing. Braverman recommends sitting in on a property tax hearing to prepare for your own hearing.

If your hearing is after your taxes are due, you will have to pay them. However, if you win your appeal you will get a refund.

If you lose your appeal on the city level, you can appeal at a state level. States usually won’t take appeals from people seeking less than a few thousand dollars.

Be nice!

Braverman emphasizes that property assessors are bombarded with angry people demanding their assessment be changed. If you nicely, pleasantly and informally discuss your property value with the assessor, you’ll stand out.

Never underestimate the power of being nice.

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