How to Appeal Property Tax Assessments
Back after a well-needed break, today my post is about whether or not you should challenge, and how to appeal a property tax assessment in Ohio (or other states).
Many home buyers and new home owners take a strong look at property taxes and wonder if the tax assessment is fair or correct.
If the tax assessment of a property results in too high a taxable value on a home it will naturally result in tax bills that are unfairly high. Though there are guidelines to tax assessment, the assessors themselves are human and capable of error.
Let’s look at how you may be able to lower the taxable value and how that can equate to big savings here in Ohio and around the U.S.
Prepping for Property Tax Appeal
First, to challenge your home’s taxable value you need to firmly establish at least one, preferably more, of the following facts about the property.
- Show the county tax assessor relied on incomplete or erroneous information. For an example, let’s say the assessor assumed the home was 2,500 square feet but the home is actually 1,900.
- Demonstrate that the assessor set the taxable value of your home higher that comparable homes of similar property value in your neighborhood.
- Show the assessor incorrectly determined the home’s fair market value to be higher than it is in actuality.
If you feel and can establish than any of the above are true, you have reasonable expectation to successfully challenge your property tax.
How to Appeal Property Tax Assessment - Pragmatic Steps
1. Start by conferring with the county tax assessor - Now that you've gathered convincing evidence the county assessor has overvalued your home, the assessor may simply agree to change the property tax value. In this case, no further action would be necessary. You can locate and contact your county assessor by visiting your county's Auditor's Association.
For Ohio - County Auditor's Association of Ohio - Google for your state.
2. Use a gentle approach - When approaching and speaking to them, realize that most county tax assessors are human and generally work to treat homeowners universally fair - avoid complaining, stick to the facts and be respectful and friendly.
When you do meet to discuss your home's taxable value, assume they want to help and willing to weigh the evidence you've gathered. Be sure to bring copies of your findings to leave with the assessor and avoid being argumentative. The old catch phrase "you catch more flies with honey" applies here.
Though an assessor could change the tax assessment immediately, they will more likely want a few days to more closer examine the evidence.
3. If you need to, pursue an appeal - Should you fail to reach an agreement with the assessor, your next step is to appeal the valuation. Here's where to purse an appeal, evidence needed and next steps:
- Where to appeal your property taxes - Appeal your home's valuation by end of March of the tax year with your county's Board of Revision. Contact the County Assessor's office and ask of what information they will want you to submit, including the evidence you've previously gathered.
Useful Evidence for Appealing Property Taxes
- A recent appraisal of the home
- A licensed contractor's report on home repairs needed and cost estimates.
- Documents showing actual sales prices in your neighborhood and photos of homes in the area similar to your's coupled with a list of their sales prices and tax values.
Following filing an appeal comes the hearing. You'll have only five to ten minutes to present your case, so be organized, succinct and practiced. It's wise to bring extra and organized copies of your evidence so that you can present a full copy to the hearing officer. Another excellent idea is to include a chart showing comparative sales price and property tax values of comparable local residential real estate. Showing up early and listening to other's appeals can help provide you insights before making your case.
- Failed Appeals and Further Reviews
If you're appeal yields unsatisfactory results, you still have a couple options: You can appeal to the Ohio (or other state's) Board of Tax Appeals, or you can present in court. Either way, you need to act withing 30 days of when the county board mails it's decision (the date stamp, not when you receive it). If the property tax burden is high enough, you may want to consider hiring a real estate attorney if you are going to court.
- Consider a Further Review
If you don’t agree with the decision on your administrative appeal, you have two options: (1) you can appeal to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals, or (2) you can go to court. In either event, you need to act within 30 days of when the county board mails its decision. You’ll probably need to hire a lawyer to advise or represent you if you plan to go to court.
To learn about how Ohio property tax is factored, whether you should attempt to appeal or find an experienced real estate attorney, check out this page at Nolo's Ohio Lawyer Directory.
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