Why I Won't Fight My Property Taxes in 2023 -- Even Though I've Done it Before (and Won)

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  • When your property assessment rises, it can lead to a higher property tax bill.
  • You have the option to fight your assessment, but right now, that may be a tougher thing to do.
  • Home values are up nationally, so I'm unlikely to win if I decide to fight the assessment.

It's a move that doesn't make as much sense right now.

Recently, my town sent out property assessment cards that had a lot of people up in arms. Many of the homes in my neighborhood saw their assessed value increase by $100,000 or more over the course of the past year.

Why is that a problem? Well, if you're looking to borrow against your home equity and want more of it to tap, it's not. But if you're hoping to keep your property tax bill to a minimum, a higher home assessment could get in the way of that. That's because your property taxes are calculated by taking your home's assessed value and multiplying it by your local tax rate.

So, let's say your home is assessed at $500,000 one year, and then $600,000 the next year. If your tax rate doesn't change from year to year and it's 2%, that means your property tax bill could climb from $10,000 to $12,000. And if you think these numbers are extreme or unrealistic, be aware that in some parts of the country, these are the property taxes you'll face for an average, modest home.

Such is the case where I live. New Jersey has the honor of having the highest property taxes in the nation. So a few years ago, I made the decision to appeal my property taxes -- and won.

This time around, however, I won't be fighting my property tax bill, even though my home assessment went up in a very big way. Here's why.

It could be a losing battle

When we talk about fighting our property taxes, what we're really doing is arguing down the assessed value of a given property. Property tax rates are set at the municipal level. If your town has a 2% tax rate, you can't appeal that. But if your tax assessor says your home is worth $600,000 when you're convinced it's only worth $500,000, that is a point you can argue. And if you win, you could see a lower property tax bill as a result.

Years ago, my tax assessor raised the value of my home by about $50,000 at a time when property values in my area were largely holding steady. So I fought that assessment and got that number lowered, thereby saving myself some money on taxes.

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My most recent assessment tells me that my property is now being assigned a value that's $100,000 higher than last year. But as much as I'd like to fight that assessment, I'm not going to.

The reason? I'm unlikely to win.

Home values are up on a national level. And in my neighborhood, homes have been selling for a good $100,000 more than they would've a couple of years ago. That's in spite of mortgage rates rising so drastically this year.

As such, I can't really argue in good faith that my home assessment isn't accurate. And I don't have sales data to back up a claim that my assessment is too high. So I don't see the point in fighting a battle I'm unlikely to win.

Know when to back down

I'm not happy about the idea of potentially having to pay more property taxes next year -- especially since my bill is super high already (thanks, New Jersey). But I also don't see the point in wasting my time to fight an assessment that may not actually be wrong. And so I figure I might as well spare myself the aggravation.

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