Can I Dispute My Property Taxes?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on February 11, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Your home is your castle but you'd rather it didn't actually cost as much as one. So you're wondering whether you can dispute your property taxes. Good news! You can.

But beware mixed blessings: unless the assessment is erroneous, a successful reduction in your taxes will mean revealing flaws. Your property tax is based on relative value, meaning other homes in the area, and specifics, such as your home's size, condition, features, defects, and more. Let's look at different bases for challenging an assessment.

Assessor Errors

The first place to look for a challenge to a property tax assessment is in the basics. Is the home properly characterized with respect to number of rooms, bathrooms, lot size, and the like? Maybe the numbers are wrong and you're being asked to pay for a bigger or better home.

Speaking of numbers, check the math. Has everything been calculated correctly? Also review the regulations on which the assessment is being based to ensure you are being taxed at the applicable rate for your location and property type. Do you qualify for exemptions that were missed?

There are many places for error in administrative documents and you should not operate under the assumption that the documents you receive are right. Take some time to review and you could find that your challenge is a relatively simple matter.

Value Judgments

You can also ask an assessor to lower a property tax valuation based on flaws to the property. But do consider carefully before telling the county or other taxation locality that your place is a terrible mess.

Your best bet if you wish to challenge an assessment is to review taxes for similar homes in your area and see what your research yields. Property tax assessments are public documents. If your tax seems way off-base, then maybe a mistake was made.

Some places do allow for tax deferrals if you are having difficulty paying immediately. But rules vary from one locale to another.

Get Help

If reviewing all of these documents and rules sounds like a daunting task and you're not sure where to start, get help. An attorney can assist you with this, and in fact this is just the sort of administrative challenge lawyers handle best.

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