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Are You Paying More Than You Should for Property Taxes?

Property taxes are one of your many responsibilities as a homeowner. Although you can’t avoid taxes altogether, you might be able to save money. Homeowners sometimes pay more than they should because their bill is based on an assessed value that’s inaccurate.

Why Your Property Tax Bill Might Be Too High
Property taxes are calculated based on the local government’s tax rate, or mill rate and a home’s assessed value. You can’t change the mill rate, but you can review the assessed value that was used to calculate your property tax bill. You might be able to access that information online. If that’s not possible, you can visit the tax collector’s office in person.

A home’s assessed value is based on several factors, including its square footage, number of bedrooms and overall condition. If any of the information that the tax assessor’s office relied on is inaccurate or outdated, your property might have been assessed for more than it’s worth, and your tax bill might be significantly higher than it should be.

Local governments update their assessments from time to time. How often assessments are updated, and the procedure that’s used, can vary widely from one place to another.

Your home’s value might be lower now than it was the last time it was assessed because of damage, disrepair, or changes in the real estate market. If the tax assessor’s office was not aware of your house’s deteriorating condition, or if home prices in your area have fallen overall, you might be paying more than you should in taxes.

What to Do If You Think You Were Charged Too Much for Property Taxes
If you believe your home was assessed for more than its current market value, you can request a tax abatement. The process differs from one community to another.

You will have to provide information to back up your assertion. If your home is in poor condition, you can present photos, videos, or estimates for repairs. If its assessed value is inconsistent with how much similar properties in your area have sold for, you can provide information on several recent transactions to support your case. You can also hire an appraiser to determine your home’s market value and provide a report.

You Might Be Eligible for a Tax Break
Even if your home’s assessed value is accurate, you might be able to lower your property tax bills. Local governments offer tax exemptions and credits for some groups of homeowners, such as senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, active-duty members of the military and veterans. Consult a professional who is familiar with the tax laws in your city and state.