“Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency, but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” - Benjamin Franklin
It seems like Ben was right. Taxes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and that is especially true when it comes to property taxes.
What Are Property Taxes?
Much like it sounds, property taxes are a tax paid on a residential or commercial property owned by individuals or a legal entity. The rate is determined by your local government and is based on a property’s value. Property tax rates vary from state to state, even county to county. Some of the factors in determining property value include average home sales price, the cost of construction, and the income earned from commercial property. Property taxes are generally used to fund the six S’s (i.e. schools, safety, spaces, streets, sanitation, and services).
While property taxes can be costly and aggravating, they have become vital to fund community services. That being said, some of us may be overpaying when it comes to property taxes. According to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, it is estimated that 30% to 60% of properties are over-assessed. However, less than 5% of homeowners will dispute their property tax assessment. Of the 5% that do, between 20% and 40% win lower assessments and lower property tax bills.
Common Reasons to Dispute Your Property Taxes
Can I appeal my property tax? Yes, there are two common reasons to challenge your current property tax assessment.
1) Not Filing the Correct Exemptions.
While exemptions vary from state to state, some of these exemptions include homestead exemption, veteran or disabled person status, assistance for senior citizens, and disaster relief.
2) You Believe the Assessed Value of Your Home Exceeds its True Market Value.
Local governments often use crude methods to calculate property taxes. Homes are valued based on fair market value – what a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to sell for in an open market. Sometimes, property valuations can be very low or very high. Normally, an incorrect assessment is more common than missing an exemption.
A way to determine whether you have a case is to compare your property with similar properties in your neighborhood. You can do this by pulling property cards of several homes of similar age and square footage to see how their assessments line up with yours.
When Should I Dispute My Property Taxes?
The short answer to this is as soon as possible. In Florida, you have 25 days after the Truth in Mileage notice is issued to appeal. Each state is different on deadlines. This is a time when you want to be proactive and start the appeal process as soon as possible or you will be stuck with the bill you receive from your local tax office.
A nationwide tax calendar can be found at the National Property Tax Group’s website.
Appealing Your Property Tax Bill
As a property owner, you have the right to appeal:
The property appraiser's assessment of your property's value.
A denial of your application for an exemption, such as homestead, veterans, or senior citizen.
A denial of your application for property classification, such as agricultural or historic.
A denial of your application for tax deferral.
A determination that a change of ownership, a change of ownership or control, or a qualifying improvement has occurred. If you disagree with the property appraiser’s assessment, you can either talk with the property appraiser’s office about the assessment or file a petition with the county value adjustment board (VAB) to appeal the property appraiser’s assessment. Or, you can do both of these options. You can also file a lawsuit in circuit court to challenge the property appraiser’s assessment or the VAB’s decision.
Filing a property tax appeal generally requires the help of a lawyer. The process is usually complicated and requires a significant amount of time and experience to properly complete. A lawyer can help you identify the deadline to file the appeal and has the knowledge to complete property research. A property tax dispute lawyer will also build a compelling case to reduce the property’s assessed value.
Someone You Can Trust
Without an experienced lawyer on your side, a client will have difficulty reducing their property’s assessed value. I’m Rob Robinson and I have been practicing law in Florida for over 30 years. I can help you effectively expedite paperwork, file documents correctly with the necessary local agencies, and clear all deadlines. I will use probative evidence to indicate the fair market value of your property. I can also select a qualified appraiser who can act as an expert witness during your property tax appeal.
If you are thinking about disputing your property tax bill, it is important to contact my office immediately. I am dedicated to serving my clients with excellence and integrity. As a sole practitioner, you can be assured that your legal matters are always handled with individualized care and attention.