by Lew Sichelman, Banker & Tradesman | January 22, 2023
Rising Property Values Will Drive Taxes Up
Property taxes are rising right along with the cost of food, gas and other necessities. One main difference: You won’t have to wait for inflation to come down to lower your property taxes. And you can do it all yourself.
“Most people are under-assessed, but the market is changing,” said Alison Tulio of Incenter Tax Solutions, a company that appeals property tax assessments on behalf of homeowners. The company works with a network of 10,000 local appraisers and attorneys across the country. “Values are declining, which means more and more people will [soon] be over-assessed. That’s when you can appeal.”
It’s not hard to protest your tax: Just follow the instructions that come along with your tax bill. I once did it.
All I had to do was find out which houses were being used by the local assessor’s office as comparables for mine. Then I went to these houses, giving each of them a once-over to determine how they differed from my place. I couldn’t get inside, of course – didn’t even try – but the exterior differences were enough to make my case.
Once equipped with my list, I made an appointment to discuss my findings on the phone. The woman on the call was very nice, listened to me politely, asked a few questions and said I’d be hearing from her office in due course.
A few weeks later, I received a letter telling me the assessment had been lowered. I don’t remember by how much, but it was sizable enough for me to think it was well worth the little bit of time and trouble I put in.
Hire Some Help
If you’re too busy to do the spade work yourself, there are companies that help people object to their high tax bills. They’ll do the research and make the case on your behalf, following the rules of your county.
What’s more, they claim an extremely high success rate. Since it launched in 2021, Incenter claims a 93 percent success rate for residential appeals and 98 percent winning percentage for commercial properties. The company said that last year, it cut its residential clients’ tax bills by about $4,000, on average.
Of course, there’s a fee involved. In Incenter’s case, there’s no charge to review a case and no charge if the appeal is not successful. If the company wins your case, though, you owe half of the first year’s savings. Every year after that, the savings are all yours because your house will continue to be taxed at a lower figure until it’s reassessed.
There are plenty of local outfits that will appeal your property tax, including some lenders and real estate brokers. Tulio herself appealed tariffs for hundreds of property owners in Pennsylvania and New Jersey before becoming Incenter’s president. But her company is one of the few national firms offering the service.
Again, though, you can always file an appeal on your own. Tulio said it is incumbent upon all homeowners to check their tax bills every year. If you think you were over-assessed, you should file an appeal, with or without professional help.
Read the rest of the article at Banker & Tradesman