Challenge Your Property Tax Assessment to Cut Your Business Costs

Challenge your property tax assessment, if you plan to start a business, are currently running a home-based business or operating a business out of an office building or piece of real estate that you own. Chances are--in this current economic down cycle--your property is worth less, perhaps a lot less, than it was a year or two ago or the last time it was assessed.

If you are simply a homeowner, this is a great thing to do to cut your costs; if you will start a business, it is another great way to cut your costs and boost your profits. As you may know from reading other pages here, we want you to spend just as little as you need to.

The reality is that in your jurisdiction and in jurisdictions around the country, literally thousands of individuals are challenging their property tax assessment. The states and localities where interest is high in challenging property tax assessments are Maryland (MD), California (CA) (particularly areas like San Diego County, where there was a huge appreciation and then drop in real estate prices). But it isn't only areas like California where interest is high, also included on the list is Virginia (VA) (particularly wealthy Fairfax County), Indiana (IN), Pennsylvania (PA) (particularly Allegheny County), Georgia (GA), Illinois (IL), Florida (FL) and Texas (TX) to name just a few.

Take these steps to prepare to get a hearing on your tax bill:

  • Always check for errors in your tax bill because there are plenty of them; make sure the error isn't in your favor.
  • Call your tax office to determine what the procedures are for getting a hearing and for possible tax reassessment on your property.
  • Carefully make a list of all documents you have to submit or have in your possession at the hearing.
  • Go over those documents to ensure that they back up your claim.
  • Make a list of crucial dates because typically you only have a certain amount of time to protest after you get your tax bill.
  • Get evidence to back up your claim and your case for reassessment. Typically, a good case might be comparable properties in your neighborhood. That is, a house that typically would have sold for $500,000 is now selling for $400,000.

Expect Push back

Expect a push back from the tax officials who want to protect their revenues. They will challenge your claims. One person who went to protest his level of taxation said that his house was no longer worth $500,000 but now was worth only $400,000. the hearing commissioners had only one question for the property owner--how much insurance do you carry on your property? The man's sheepish answer was...$500,000. Why do you carry $500,000 if the place is only worth $400,000, the owner was asked. Because, he said, it would cost $500,000 to replace the house. The case was dismissed. The next person up, now prepared for the same question, responded that he only carried $400,000 in insurance. The commissers asked him to submit a copy of his insurance policy. That person left and did not return.

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