An increase on property taxes is sometimes understandable, especially if it follows a local vote on a tax increase or if your property has experienced a steady rise in value. Other times an increase can come as a total surprise and may even seem nonsensical, especially if the increase on taxes doesn't match up with property values in your neighborhood. You do have recourse when this happens – you can file a property tax protest. While the exact methods vary depending on state and municipality, there are some general tips that can help you handle this issue.
Tip #1: Find Out the Filing Method
You cannot legally protest your property tax via nonpayment unless you formally file that you are protesting the raise. The forms necessary are typically referred to as a protest or appeal form, depending on your municipality. These forms should be available at your city clerk's or county assessor's office. In some cases you may be able to file your protest online via a secure city or county website, while in others you may need to go to the office to sign and file a hard copy. Regardless of the necessary filing method, do so before you make any tax payments. You don't want a payment to be used against you, by perhaps having the city argue that it signifies consent and agreement with the increase.
Tip #2: Attend the Hearing
Once your protest is filed a hearing will be scheduled. You should be notified in advance of the hearing, but it is up to you to follow up with the office that you filed with to make sure that you do receive notification. Make sure you are given an estimate, at the time of filing, of when you should hear back on the hearing date. If you have not found out at this time, follow up immediately. In some cases a group hearing is held if there are multiple people in the same neighborhood protesting, and you need to make sure you all show up.
Tip #3: Gather Your Evidence
You will need to bring in documentation to your hearing that backs up your request for a drop in property tax. This can include the appraisals of nearby, similar properties, photographic evidence of property defects that are reason for a lower value assessment, or documentation that shows the appraiser has inaccurate information on your property. When you arrive for your hearing, you usually meet one on one with an appraiser, although the appraiser may also be meeting with your neighbors if you are all protesting together.
For further help with a property tax assessment protest, contact a tax attorney like Delia Law in your area.