Property taxes are on the rise, and one study found that 60% of U.S. properties are over-assessed. This means that there’s a high chance your home’s assessment is causing you to pay higher property taxes every year.
Errors in the assessment process may be to blame.
1. Request a “Property Card”
You’ll want to go down to your local assessor’s office. When you’re at the office, you’ll want to ask for your “property card.” This card may be available online, too. What this card does is provide a worksheet on how the property’s value was determined.
Review the card or worksheet looking for any blatant errors that may exist.
There are some cards that may have errors in:
- Home square footage
- Number of garages
You may find that the home is being assessed on a four-bedroom home’s value, but your home only has three bedrooms. If you find any blatant errors, you’ll want to bring it to the attention of the assessor.
2. Take Advantage of Tax Breaks
A reputable accountant may be able to help you tackle your property tax increase with the use of tax breaks. You’ll need to discuss your options with your accountant, and for some, new tax laws only allow for a percentage of your property tax to be deducted from your taxes.
But there are a few other options:
- Home offices can be deducted from your taxes
- Spaces can be rented for additional income
An accountant may also help you find ways to cut back on tax obligations in other areas to lower your tax bill further.
3. Hire an Attorney to Appeal the Property Taxes
Attorneys are available that will help you fight the appeal. These professionals know the ins and outs of property tax laws, so they’ll be able to assess your property tax bill and determine if an improper assessment has inflated the cost of your tax bill.
“In Cook County, residential properties are taxed using computer valuation programs, but industrial and commercial properties are completed individually using spreadsheets that group properties by neighborhood. This system creates room for error that commercial property owners can use to appeal their tax bill,” explains Law Offices of Gary H Smith, P.C..
The help of an attorney makes the appeals process as hands-off as possible.
4. Avoid Adding on to Your Home
Adding an extra bathroom or room in your home may sound like a great idea, but if it’s not necessary, it may be best to avoid these addons. When you add on to your home, you’ll trigger a reassessment of the property’s value.
And a home that has a new bathroom or bedroom will be valued higher than it was before the addition was complete.
You can view the addition as a long-term investment because your home’s value will be higher, but then you’ll also be responsible for a higher tax bill. You need to weigh your options: whether you want to pay higher taxes, or sell the home for a higher price.
Also, avoid any costly home-improvement projects prior to a property reassessment to keep your taxes lower until the next assessment occurs.