How To Lower Your Property Taxes
About 25% of America's cities have tax rates higher than 2% (the
highest rate is 4% in Newark, New Jersey.) This means that
over 25-50 years, many people pay the same amount in property
taxes that they paid for their house!
To lower your property taxes, consider the following
- Find out what property tax breaks are available in
your area: there could be tax breaks for veterans, seniors,
low-income families, the disabled, long-time residents,
owner-occupied homes, and so forth. Your local assessor's
office would have this type of information.
- When you file your federal tax return, don't forget
to deduct your property tax expenses for houses, cars and
- Move someplace where property taxes are
lower. You can use the Lifestyle Optimizer and City Reports at Homefair.com to check property
tax rates in almost any city.
- When you receive a notice from the assessor that your
property taxes have risen, if you think their assessment is
wrong, protest it within 30 days. The assessor's
notices may be deceptive, because local governments often juggle
some numbers to try to minimize protests. Sometimes they do
this by assessing your home at a low value (to make you think
your home is under-assessed), and then they charge a high tax
rate on assessments. The only sure way to determine whether
you are being overtaxed is to compare your assessment to other
property assessments and actual home sales in your neighborhood.
Here's a quick guide to appealing your property tax assessment:
Read this article on Tax-Saving Tips for Homeowners if you'd like to see
more tax savers.
- Survey your property. Find out the legal
identification of your lot and the dimensions of your land (you
may have a land survey in your records.) Then use a tape
measure to measure the outside dimensions of your house.
Note whether the second story is smaller (assessors sometimes
mistakenly list them as the same.)
- Search the neighborhood for homes similar to your
own home. Look for homes that are similar in age, size,
architecture and condition to your own. A real estate agent
who knows your neighborhood will often be able to help you look
up records of comparable homes.
- Visit the tax assessor's office to see your
property record card, something the assessor uses to
estimate a home's actual value. Note anything that's wrong,
and try to remember things about your home that would decrease
its value. Check to see whether the assessor added it up
- Review the record cards for houses you think are
comparable. Note which houses are assessed less than
- If you think you can show that an assessment is
incorrect, meet with the assessor to ask for a
correction. If that doesn't work, ask for the paperwork and
guidance you'll need to file a formal appeal.
(Next Gem: How To Sell Your Home For Maximum Gain)