Every homeowner wants their property value to go up. A healthy rise in home value in a decade or so is not only a good sign that your investment is paying off. It’s also a good indication that your property, neighborhood, and town are prospering steadily, and you may not want for much in your retirement years.
Potential home buyers won’t be the only ones eyeing your property as its value goes up. Uncle Sam will be keeping a close eye on your home, too, so they can tax you. Now, that might sound ominous, but remember that your property taxes go into community services like your local police force, fire department, and public schools. Bet you’d gladly pay for those things when the time comes.
But what if you find out that the government is charging you a higher tax than your neighbor, whose property is the same size as yours? Here are things you need to understand before you raise a tax dispute.
Why Some People’s Property Tax Is Less Than Yours
There can be several good reasons your neighbor is paying a lower tax than you for a property of the same dimensions or similar design. First, you’re not an assessor; you can’t make an accurate or fair estimate of someone else’s property based only on observation. If you want to make the correct assessment, consult a professional property assessor who is familiar with the real estate environment in your neighborhood or city.
Secondly, there are various tax exemptions available to people who need it, including the veterans, the elderly, the disabled, and foster home parents. Just because your properties are almost the same doesn’t mean your life situations are.
If you’re close to your neighbor, however, and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they’re not any of the people mentioned above and that their property value is about the same as yours, it may be time to dispute your taxes. You will need appropriate legal representation for this.
If you live in LA, for instance, it would be best to consult a tax attorney in Los Angeles, CA than a lawyer friend in Cincinnati, OH. Though you can converse more comfortably with your friend, the first attorney is more familiar with the state’s laws and tax regulations.
Work with Your Lawyer and Check Your Property Records
Once you’ve found a lawyer you can work with, you and your counsel must go to your local tax assessor’s office to do a complete check of your property records. This is to make sure you and the assessor are on the same page and looking at the same updated information about your property. For example, you might be paying taxes for an extra garage in your house that was torn down before you moved in. But the local assessor’s office was never informed of the change.
If you see any discrepancies, you and your lawyer must inform the assessor immediately. This will prompt an inspection of your property to make sure that your claim is true. Once the inspection is over and your property records have been updated, your lawyer can work with the assessor to determine if you’re paying the right tax amount. If your taxes are correct, then you’ll have to stop comparing your payments to that of your neighbor. But if it’s not, your lawyer will help you file a grievance in tax court.
Seeing your property rise in value is both comforting and promising. But you need to be vigilant when it comes to taxes and other fees related to your property so you can correct any mistakes as early as possible.