Can you lower your property taxes?

There’s an old saying. Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

I’ll begin with a thought of where you can look for money under the proverbial mattress. Your house and what you pay in taxes! As property values have increased significantly in many areas of the country, some localities have taken steps to increase their tax revenues by increasing their real estate taxes. But take heart: you can take steps to potentially lower these taxes by examining the assessed value of your home.

Although assessments must typically be established each year, some assessors might not perform an annual appraisal of every property they assess. Instead, individual valuations are sometimes made when there is a municipal-wide reassessment, and then carried forward until another municipal-wide reassessment is performed. In some cases, many years can pass between reassessments. So, if your property value has fallen, you could be paying more than you should.

Moreover, when assessments are conducted, errors can sometimes be made. Some of these errors may include the size of your home or the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Sometimes unfinished basements are listed as finished in the assessor’s report; sometimes garages that don’t exist are factored into the property value.

So, when you receive your next annual property tax assessment, immediately look to see how much your community thinks your property is worth. If it doesn’t look right based on what similar houses are selling for in your neighborhood, it’s time to check out the actual assessor’s report. You are entitled to obtain a property valuation report from your local assessor’s office-upon request. Study it for these possible errors. And, compare it to the value of your home. Do not be shy or intimidated of going to city hall. This is your money and it’s much better in your pocket than your town’s. You may have significant savings to be had…go for it.