Many homeowners face increased property taxes, even as the value of their home has fallen. If you’re one of these homeowners, you’re probably wondering how to lower your property taxes.
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It takes work, but it can be done. Here are three things you need to do in order to lower your property taxes:
1. Obtain your property identification number (PIN). Each real estate parcel is given a PIN, and this PIN is used when levying property taxes. You’ll need your PIN to assess the value of your home. You can look it up online or through your local tax assessor’s office.
To make the next step easier, you should also obtain the PINs of homes in the area that are comparable to yours.
2. Analyze neighboring homes. Using the PINs you obtained, research other properties that are in the same tax category as yours. Compare recent sale prices, assessed valuations, and tax bills for homes in your category, as well as pictures of the homes if they’re available.
All of this information is public, and you can find it at your local tax assessor’s office.
After assessing all of the properties, choose those that compare most favorably to yours. The goal of the analysis is to prove that your property tax bill should be lowered based on the taxes assessed on comparable homes.
3. Ask for a reduction. If your property taxes seem to be higher than comparable homes, ask for a reduction. How you go about this depends on the rules of your local assessor’s office, but you may be able to file an appeal online, by mail, or in person.
It only takes one foreclosure in a neighborhood to drop property prices by 20 percent, 30 percent, or even 50 percent. If you have distressed homes in your area, it’s certainly possible that your own home’s value has also gone down and that your tax bill should be lower.
However, while you may want to lower your property taxes, keep in mind that such taxes are often used to fund essential services. If your neighborhood relies on property tax revenue for services such as garbage pick-up or law enforcement, for example, loss of property tax revenue could mean service cuts. Before you look into lowering your property taxes, figure out what services you want from your neighborhood and how much you are willing to pay for those services.
Ilyce Glink is the author of ten books, including the bestselling 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask. Her nationally syndicated column, “Real Estate Matters,” appears in more than 125 newspapers and Websites, and her online “Ask Ilyce” columns are read by hundreds of thousands of people every month. She is a top-rated radio host on WSB Radio in Atlanta, the Home Equity blogger at CBS MoneyWatch.com, host of the Internet program “Expert Real Estate Tips,” managing editor of the Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and publisher of ThinkGlink.com.