Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Saving Money on Property Taxes in the Off Season

Now that tax season has passed, and you’ve got your tax plan for 2009 together (right?), what can you do to save money on taxes? Take a look at your property tax bill. Some experts estimate that 60% of homes are over assessed, meaning higher property tax bills. Property owners are able to apply for reduction in assessment from July 2 – September 15. And the reassessment process can be lengthy, so this is the time to start the process.

First things first, go over your own property tax assessment with a fine tooth-comb. Those records are available at your county assessor’s office. Make sure the square footage, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc., is correct. If everything lines up, then review your neighbors’ assessments. Don’t worry—it is all a matter of public record, so you are not invading anyone’s privacy. Review at least 5 neighbors’ records. Your assessment should be within 10% of the average.

If your assessment record is correct, and your assessment is comparable to your neighbors’, then you can argue that the property values have fallen, so you should be taxed at lower rates. Of course, this route involves an administrative review and possibly judicial hearings. Either way lengthens the timeline and can incur additional costs. However, reducing your property taxes can save you money for years to come.

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