Are you paying too much in property taxes? Contest your assessment, here’s how:
Think you’re paying too much? Contest.
You’re not alone. With property taxes continuing to rise nationwide, many homeowners are starting to challenge what they see as exorbitantly high demands made on them by their local assessor’s office. Follow their lead, and you have a 50 percent chance of succeeding, says Pete Sepp, a spokesperson for the National Taxpayers Union.
First, a primer. The amount of property tax you pay is determined by multiplying your county and city tax rates by the assessed value of your property and all of the structures on it. The value of those structures can change dramatically if you make improvements, like putting on a new family-room addition. Most homeowners pay property taxes once or twice a year; they can also be amortized into monthly mortgage payments.
To determine the value of your house, assessors will either stop by for a detailed inspection during the town’s reassessment period, or simply check real estate documents to see how much you paid for the property. In some cases, they’ll just look at the median price paid for homes in your area and base their calculations on that.
Reasons for disputing assessments vary. Maybe you suspect that the assessed value of your property exceeds its true market value. Or you might discover that your neighbors, who live in an identical four-bedroom two-story down the block, are paying less in taxes than you are. There’s also the possibility that you’re entitled to exemptions that weren’t taken into account. In some jurisdictions, for example, homeowners renovating historic properties can get a partial property-tax reduction.
You don’t typically need a lawyer, since most municipalities are more than willing to walk you through the appeals process. So where do you start?
When can I contest my property assessment?
By law (KRS-133.120(1)(a)), if you wish to contest your property assessment you must first hold a conference with the PVA Office approximately two weeks prior to or during the Open Inspection Period (OIP). The 2016 OIP begins on May 2, 2016 and ends on May 16, 2016. The PVA Online Conference is your PVA conference. To contest your 2016 assessment, complete our PVA online conference available two weeks prior to or during the 2016 OIP at: www.jeffersonpva.ky.gov. The PVA online conference is also available two weeks prior to and during the 2016 OIP free of charge at any branch of the Louisville Free Public Library. You may also call our office two weeks prior to and during the 2016 OIP at (502) 574-6224 to schedule an appointment to complete your PVA online conference on computers available at the PVA Office located downtown at: 815 W. Market Street, Suite 400 Louisville, KY 40202.
STRATEGIES FOR REDUCING YOUR ASSESSMENT
That latest property tax bill is not set in stone, here’s some useful advice.
• Make sure all the deductions you’re entitled to were granted.
• If something looks off, check the assessor’s math and the description of your property. Sometimes the problem is simple human error, like miscalculated square footage or an incorrect number of bedrooms.
•Check the assessments of at least five comparable properties.
•Make adjustments for differences between your property and the comps.
•If your assessment is unfair, make an informal appeal to the assessor first. If that doesn’t work, file a formal appeal.
•Attend an appeals board hearing to get a feel for the process.
•Prepare a written summary of your case and rehearse your presentation.
We Can Help You
If you would like help determining the “correct” market value of your home, we can provide you a free comparative market analysis that will support your case to lower your tax assessment. Just email your address to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll do the rest. You can also call or text your information to (502) 298-3469. The report will be emailed back to you within 24 hours.