About this time of year, we get a lot of questions from clients, friends and family about property taxes, property tax protests and exemptions. We’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions to help, but you can always reach out to your best TJ Lewis Real Estate agent to help!
How do I protest my property taxes?
There are different steps and stages to protesting your property taxes, but most start with filling an appeal online on your county’s appraisal distract website.
What am I protesting?
You are protesting your homes valuation, not the amount of your taxes or your tax rate. You cannot argue the tax rate – that is set by the different taxing entities (state, county, ISD, MUD, etc.) and is usually between 2-3%. The amount of your taxes is Your VALUATION (minus any exemptions) x Your Tax RATE. So if your valuation is $400,000 and your rate is 2% than your taxes for the year are $8000. What you are protesting the your valuation – the amount the county is saying your home is worth.
What property tax exemptions might be available to me?
The most common property tax exemptions are the exemptions for homestead, disability, senior citizen, agriculture and disable veteran. Here is a link to a video explaining a lot of details about exemptions.
How do I know if I should protest my property taxes?
This is best determined by comparing the valuation from the county with the current home market. Your valuation is based on the a single date – January 1st of that year – and it is compared against the values for similar properties for the previous year. If you are using sold comparable sales data, you can only use properties that sold in the previous calendar year. For example, for protesting your taxes this year, you would compare it to sales in 2019. To determine the fair market value for your current property, contact a top TJ Lewis agent.
Can I protest my property taxes on my own?
Yes, you can but sometimes it is worth it to hire a professional to help you with the process. There are a number of local companies that specialize helping homeowners with protesting their taxes. Their fee is usually a percentage of the tax savings that they earn for their customers and they can also tell you if it is actually worth it to protest your taxes.
Why do my taxes go up?
Your taxes go up for two reasons. First, your taxes increase because your tax rate goes up. From time to time, counties increase taxes to pay for bonds and similar programs. School districts adjust their tax rates to track with their budgets. Many of these rates require local votes and others have caps from the state government. The second reason your taxes go up is that your home’s valuation has increased. Your taxes are based on home much your home is worth – when your home is worth more, you pay more in taxes.
How does a Homestead Exemption protect me?
A homestead exemption protects you in two ways – it exempts you from paying taxes on a percentage of your homes value thereby reducing your property taxes. The exemption also places a 10% cap on the increase a county can make on the valuation of your home each year.
How can I protest my property taxes?
There are three main types of property tax appeals – a market appeal, an equity appeal and an appeal based on characteristic correction. A market appeal is based on the believe that your homes valuation is not in line with the current market value of your home if you sold it (remember, you have to use the previous years data for this). An equity appeal is based on the values the county has assigned to similar properties or yours. If they have valued other homes similar to yours at a lower level, you can appeal based on this inequity. An appeal based on characteristics is made when the county has incorrect measurements or structures added to your home. If the square footage they have recorded for your home is higher than the actual square footage, you can argue for a reduced property tax valuation based on the incorrect data. Another example would be if their notes list a pool, shed or other structure in your backyard and have increased your value based on this when you do not actually have that structure, you can get an adjustment based on the county having these characteristics incorrect.
What is the difference between a online/E-File protest and an informal/formal hearing?
The online/e-file protests are done completely online and are a lower risk/lower reward system. They take less time as they are done online but any reductions in your value are usually less than what you might be able to get with the in-person informal/formal reviews. However, the online protest cannot result in an increased valuation, something that could happen through the other way. The informal/formal reviews require you to meet with different people at the appraisal board but can usually net you a higher reduction. They can result in an increased valuation if the board feels your value is actually too low. The tax protest professionals are especially good in these reviews.
These are a few Frequently Asked Questions about property tax protest and we hope this has been helpful for you! If you have specific questions about your home, your homes value or protesting your property taxes, contact your top TJ Lewis Real Estate agent and we would be honored to help!