Retirement & Financial Planning Report

In many areas where home values still haven’t recovered from the downturn, home assessments may not have declined at the same rate. The reason is simple: local jurisdictions need money from real estate taxes and they have no strong motivation to revalue homes downward and cut into their income stream.

However, you typically can appeal a real estate assessment. In some jurisdictions, informal meetings with the assessor are allowed. You might point out any errors and the resulting overvaluation, then wind up with a tax cut.

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If such meetings are not allowed, or if one proves fruitless, you’ll have to file a formal protest. You should find out about the required procedures and follow them to the letter so your protest is not denied because of a technicality.

You’ll likely get a hearing date, so be sure you’re well-prepared. If your local hearings are open to the public, sit in on someone else’s protest before yours. Check out the process and determine which arguments are most effective.

Gather your evidence in advance:

* You might bring a statement from a reputable third-party who has measured your living space, for instance, or counted your bathrooms.

* Bring photographs, if they’ll help. If your home has value-lowering faults, such as a need for major repairs, photos accompanied by contractor’s statement can support a re-assessment.

* Once your evidence is lined up, prepare a presentation that makes your points clearly and succinctly. Some hearing boards have a time limit for testimony so be sure you’ll be in compliance.

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