According to Benjamin Franklin, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." On April 15, those individuals who owed income taxes had to mail their payments to the IRS. But that’s not the only taxes you might owe. If you’re a property owner, you also must pay property taxes, in Indiana, are due in May.
A recent study by Zillow showed that on average, property owners pay approximately $2,800, or about 1.4% of their property’s value, annually in taxes. Of course, this average can be higher or lower depending upon where you live in the U.S.
Additionally, the National Taxpayers Union estimates that up to 60% of the properties in the U.S. are assessed too high. Which means you could be paying more in property taxes than you need to. But what can you do if you think this is the case?
- Review your property tax bill closely for any obvious errors.
- If you find an error or feel that you’re being overbilled, contact your local assessor’s office. Find out how they assess properties and calculate property taxes. Ask what you would need to do if you decide to appeal your assessment. You may have to file a formal petition within 60 days of your annual assessment being mailed and/or appear before a magistrate. Ask for any forms you may need to complete.
- Obtain a copy of your property information from your local assessor’s office. (Note: These documents may be available online at your county’s government offices’ website.) Your property specs will include everything that was used to determine your home’s assessed value, such as square footage, lot size, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Check these papers to ensure the information is correct. If it is incorrect, file an appeal.
- If your home has any quirks that hamper its function, like walking through a closet or another bedroom to get to a bedroom or a one-car garage for a four-bedroom home, you may be able to challenge your property assessment. These quirks are called “functional obsolescence” and may affect your home’s value when you go to sell it. Use these factors to contest the value of your home with your assessor’s office.
- Determine if you have any external issues affecting the value of your home, also called "external obsolescence." External factors may include railroad tracks running along your property line, being on the take-off or landing approaches of a nearby airport or being located near the town’s sewage facilities. Again, these factors may affect your ability to sell your home later. Use these factors to contest the value of your home with your assessor’s office.
- Determine if your home is assessed properly by comparing it to property assessments of at least 5 comparable homes (same size and amenities) that have sold in your neighborhood within the past year. You can get this information from your assessor’s office or by researching homes on real estate sites. File an appeal if the value of your home is at least 5% to 10% higher than these comparable properties.
- Hire a reputable, professional appraiser to reassess the value of your property if you believe your property’s value has been over-assessed. Appraisers’ fees can run $300 and up depending on the size of your property.
- Once you have gathered all of your evidence showing that your property hasn’t been properly assessed, complete any required forms from your local assessor’s office and present your case. Generally, you’ll receive their decision within 2 to 4 weeks. If you don’t succeed with your case, you may be able to appeal to a state review board or take your case to court.
Besides paying too much in taxes, homeowners also don’t like to pay too much in interest on their mortgage loan. If you’re looking to refinance your home, contact the mortgage specialists at Grandview Lending. We’ll work with you to find the right loan for your needs.
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