Property taxes have been zooming up across America. They rose 4.7% in Wisconsin last year, and they're going up 5.7% in Bayonne, N.J. Nevada politicians are proposing capping property tax hikes at 6%, while some counties there face double-digit property tax rate increases. This all seems horrifying for homeowners, but take heart (at least a bit) -- many home value assessments, on which taxes are based, are off the mark. Don't think you have to accept and pay all of your recent property tax increase.
The American Homeowner's Association (AHA) recently put out an eyebrow-raising press release:
- According to Consumer Reports, "Records show an error rate of 40% exists in estimating property values."
- According to the National Taxpayers Union, "Up to 60% of all homes are overassessed and not in line with their actual value."
- The AHA states that "... although less than 2% of assessments are appealed, usually 75% to 90% of all appeals result in a reduction of taxes."
The kinds of errors your home's assessment might feature include some little inaccuracies that can have a major impact on what your tax bill is. The size of your home might be off, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms could be incorrect. Sometimes things such as unfinished basements are counted as finished or non-existent garages are factored in.
Study your assessment report for errors, and compare your home's value with that of similar ones in your neighborhood. Once you're ready, you probably won't need to take anyone to court. Oftentimes, a simple visit to the assessors' office will do. If you can provide proof of an error, you're likely to get a rapid reduction.
To help you through this process, check out a free trial of AHA's property tax reduction kit at www.homeownertaxcut.com.
Learn more about the ins and outs of buying or selling a home in our Home Center, which also features special mortgage rates. Also, visit our Buying or Selling a Home and Building/Maintaining a Home discussion boards for great insights and tips from fellow Fools.
Selena Maranjian is a longtime Fool contributor.