“Ask Your Attorney” Column

About Protesting Your Tax Assessment

Dear Counselor: I just received a notice in the mail from my local assessor that shows that the assessed value of my property is being increased when I think it should be lowered! What do I do?

Dear Client: As you know, your real estate tax bill is based upon the assessed value of your property. The higher the assessed value, the higher the taxes you pay. So, making sure the local assessor has the right information is critically important to a fair assessment. If possible, you should arrange to meet with the assessor to discuss your assessment. Local assessors are typically more than happy to arrange an appointment. An informal discussion can often resolve a problem — rather than going to a formal hearing before the “Board of Review”. If the assessor has made a mistake about the size of your property, or the age or condition of your home, you can call that to their attention. If, on the other hand, their data is correct, but you believe the value is just too high, the best evidence of value is a recent “arm’s-length” sale of reasonably comparable property. You can try to get information on your own, or work with a real estate broker, or appraiser. You can also review information on what homes similar to yours are assessed at by reviewing the assessor’s tax roll. Showing the assessor that your home is assessed much higher than three similar homes the assessor has set lower values for is a strong argument that yours is too high. If you can’t reach an agreement, the next step is filing a written Objection, and going before your community’s Board of Review where you can present your case. Good Luck, and feel free to call with more questions.

John L. Maier, Jr.