6 Tips for Minimizing Real Estate Taxes

Home ownership, while an ingrained part of the American Dream, has its downsides. Apart from maintenance and the inevitable surprise repair, such as a broken sump pump during a downpour, homeowners are also responsible for paying taxes on their property. While taxes are a certainty, there are ways to minimize the impact property taxes can have on your wallet.

1. All homeowners have the right to go to their city or county tax office and request a copy of their property tax card. Some entities provide this information online. This card provides homeowners with all the pertinent information regarding the property and structures or improvements on it. As you review the card, be sure to note any discrepancies between the card and your home.

2. Before you add improvements to your home, contact the tax department. They can provide you with a rough estimate of how the improvement will affect your property value. The building department can provide the same information when you apply for building permits.

3. Most tax assessors do a drive by when assessing your property, which gives the assessment a certain amount of bias. If your home has immaculate landscaping compared to the minimally landscaped but otherwise identical house two doors down, your home could be valued higher than your neighbor. Be sure to beautify after the assessor visits.

4. While you are researching your own home, be sure to look at the property values in your area, particularly those with similar structures. When comparing property values, you need to do an apple to apples comparison. If your property is valued higher than a neighbor’s, it might be wise to ask for a new assessment.

5. After research, if you believe your property taxes are too high, you should request a reassessment. Use the records you culled from the property tax office regarding similar properties. Most tax offices are willing to hear your appeal and in many cases will reduce your property tax burden. Check with your local tax office or their website to find the paperwork to appeal an assessment.

6. Many taxing authorities will do both a drive by and an onsite inspection of your property. Walk through your home with the assessor and point out the good and the bad about your property. Allowing the assessor to walk through prevents them from making assumptions and gives you the best chance of getting a fair assessment of your property.

Real estate taxes are a fact of life, but high taxes don’t have to be. By taking a few simple steps, you can ensure you are paying your taxes without stripping your budget.


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