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Reassessment of value on homes and what that can mean for your property taxes

As many as 60 percent of properties across the country are over assessed, according to the National Taxpayers Union, a nonprofit group that promotes lower taxes. Many people don’t fully understand what a reassessment is and what it could mean for your property taxes.

What is a Reassessment?

Let’s start with the definition of Reassessment – “The process of redetermining the assessed value of a parcel of real estate for property tax purposes”. An assessment is done to determine the property tax bills. Tax bills are based on both the assessed value of the property and the property tax rates (millage rates). A reassessment usually causes an increase or decrease in a property owner’s tax bill, depending on if the millage rates have gone up or down.

Don’t think that just because your assessed value has gone up that you’re taxes will automatically go up. In some cases the taxes you pay could decrease and you’ll be paying less in taxes that year. If your taxes are going to increase, you can always try to appeal the reassessment. It’s imperative to note that homeowners cannot contest their property tax rate (millage rate), but they can lower the assessed value of their home by filing an official appeal with the assessment office. However, only 2 to 3 percent of homeowners actually attempt an appeal, and usually only 20 to 40 percent of those appeals are successful.

Filing an appeal to fight the increase of assessed value

If you are going to file an appeal, you should do some research and learn all that you can about the assessment process, the appeal process and find out if there are any fees associated with filing. Due to the large increase in appeals, some municipalities now require appeal filing fees to cover the cost of the process.

Keep in mind that you are trying to make the case that your property value is lower than the new assessment, so list legitimate comparable sales which support that argument. Ask the Real Estate Agent who sold you the house or any agent that you know, if they could find some comparables for you. Most agents want to keep your business, so they should do it for you.

Pay attention to the deadline to file an appeal. Most offices only allow up to 60 days after you receive the letter. You don’t want to put this off if you plan on filing. The process typically comes to a halt, without further recourse for you, if you don’t turn in the paperwork on time or if you forget to show up for the formal or informal hearing on the required date.

How long the entire process will take depends on your local resources. In some districts, you can receive a final decision within a few months. Elsewhere, it can take a year or longer. Some jurisdictions offer a tax break if you fall under the homestead act, are elderly or disabled, or meet other credentials such as a veteran. You must be proactive to claim these benefits, so call the Assessor’s office and ask.

Contact Advantage Credit Counseling Service

For more information on housing counseling and how to save money, contact Advantage CCS. The staff at ACCS can help you with your housing questions, budgeting questions, credit counseling or bankruptcy counseling needs.

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