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Why Overpay Your Property Taxes - A Brief Guide

Dec 1, 2007
It is often said in life that two things are for certain - "Death and Taxes". Next in line is that "You Have to Live Somewhere"

Both are true. Both lead to property taxes. Are your property taxes too high? Are they properly assessed?

You may think that property taxes and their valuations are of little concern to you if you are a renter. Whether you rent a house, condo, apartment or commercial office, retail, hotel or warehouse space the taxes paid by the landlord are a component of your rent. Nothing is for nothing and unless the landlord is your uncle you are probably not getting away scot free of property taxes.

Over the last while property values have increased greatly. As property values increase you can be sure that your property taxes. You can be sure that few governments miss a chance to increase their take of taxes. Not only is that but realty taxes not a one shot deal. They are paid on a regular ongoing basis - year in, year out.

Yet often the means by which realty taxes are assessed are often a clouded issue. It makes sense if you realize that if the means by which your property taxes are assessed is not understood or explained easily - then the less the chances of home or business owners to realize that they are overpaying their realty taxes and dispute the amount of taxes charged - the taxes being charged are wrong. Of course almost all appeals of property tax charges are for overcharged property taxes, few appeals are done by homeowner for undercharged realty taxes. If you cannot understand the system, then you cannot complain and take action. It's like going to a mechanic and paying for a major car bill, on a yearly basis, without getting a full explanation on the bill or invoice of the work done to your car or vehicle.

In essence and summary realty taxes are supposed to be based on the assessed value of the property - whether it be vacant land or a building.

How can you determine the current and fair value of your property? First look at the sale price of similar properties in your neighborhood in the recent past.

This can be determined by direct question, the newspaper or local real estate publications, posting sites on the internet. As well your local real estate professional agent can be of great help. At the worst you can pay a professional home assessor a fee of several hundred dollars to assess the value of your house or commercial property.

Better to spend a couple of dollars now than spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars year in and out. Many local real estate publications are given away freely at local banks, businesses, malls and supermarkets. It's all promotion for the real estate industry and the Realtors to promote their sales. Why not use this especially collected, information that is available to you at little work as well as little or no cost as a proof source to your advantage.

Next contact your local tax authority or authorities. That can be a feat in itself. When you get through the maze of telephone answering machines and telephone tags of civil servants in conference simply explain that you are interested in how property taxes in your area are assessed. You would be amazed that by asking fair and reasonable specific questions in a reasonable manner how these people love to answer questions. In doing so they may explain the process to you along with a simple explanation, rates and unknowingly provide proof sources. You can give your name and address feely. The person on the other end of the phone line may even mail out explanatory supporting information or direct you to highly relevant websites.

With this information in hand you will be in a better position to understand and evaluate whether your property tax assessment are fair and fairly assessed.

Remember that ultimately property taxes are not evaluated and assessed one single property at a time. Property taxes are genially assessed for a given area.

The fairness of your property tax assessment will be in relationship to other similar properties. If possible compare your assessed property tax to those of your neighbors with similar properties.

In the end it is all about fairness. We all expect services from our municipality or city administration. Most people are more than willing to pay their share. However no one likes to or should overpay their property tax load.
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