Q: I bought my single family home a couple of years ago and discovered the county assessor’s office had it classified incorrectly as a three-family building. I got the assessor’s office to correct its mistake, and my house is now properly classified as a single family home.

Can I get a refund for the previous years taxes that were too high due to the misclassification?

A: Whether or not you get your money back will in part depend on where you live.

In some areas, you simply can’t get a refund. In those locations, the homeowner has the burden of making sure his or her home’s assessment is correct. If it isn’t correct, there is a certain time period in which the homeowner may seek a correction to the tax bill. If the homeowner fails to correct the error during that window of opportunity, the assessment of the home becomes final.

In some cases, even if the assessment on the home is final, a homeowner might still have one last chance to contest the taxes and seek a reduction. But if the assessment process and the tax payment process are finalized, many jurisdictions will bar the homeowner from seeking a refund for prior years taxes paid.

Even if you can’t get the county to refund any overpayment of taxes, know that having the correct information should result in lower tax bills in the current tax year and in future years.

May 28, 2004.