These days, everyone is trying to save a couple of dollars wherever possible. Some people have sworn off movie theaters, saying they will only watch films on their screens at home. Other people have seriously cut down on the number of meals they eat at restaurants, recognizing that it is almost always cheaper (not to mention healthier!) to cook something at home. Buying in bulk has become standard for those who might not have even considered it ten years ago.
While these kinds of changes can help families and individuals pinch a few pennies here and there, they might only add up to a few hundred dollars saved over the whole year. What about those people who want bigger savings? Many of them are looking for ways to cut down major expenses like rent, insurance, and taxes. Reducing your property tax assessment is a great way to save money. Below are some tips to help you cut down your property tax assessment.
TAX ASSESSMENT TIP #1
Get a copy of your property tax card and take a good look at it. Many homeowners don’t even know that they can go down to their local town hall and request to see (or get a copy of) their property tax cards, which are usually held at the local assessor’s office. This card has information on it about the size of the property, the dimensions of the rooms, and the fixtures that are installed within the home. There may also be information about special features or improvements that were made over the years. Study the card and make a list of any and all discrepancies, then make an appointment with the tax assessor to go over them. You might be surprised how often mistakes occur and how easy it is to solve them and save money.
TAX ASSESSMENT TIP #2
Do some research on your neighbors. Besides finding information on your own home, you can usually also find information about your neighbors’ homes. Review the assessments done on your neighbor’s home and see if there is anything that would make a persuasive argument to lower your taxes. For example, does your neighbor have the same size home as you but pay lower taxes? Raise the issue with the assessor.
TAX ASSESSMENT TIP #3
Accompany the assessor when he/she walks through your home. It is a big mistake to let the tax assessor give himself the tour of your home instead of walking through with him. Some assessors will focus only on the homes’ strengths, like a newly installed sink or fireplace, while ignoring the homes’ big problems, like a leaky roof or flood-prone basement. So walk through the home with the assessor and point these things out.
TAX ASSESSMENT TIP #4
Don’t enhance the outside of your home pre-assessment. This might seem obvious, but the nicer your home looks when the assessor walks up to the front door, the higher your taxes are going to be. Hold off on any property enhancements like paving the driveway or putting in a fancy new mailbox. These small changes can make a big impact on the tax assessor’s impression of the value of your home.
TAX ASSESSMENT TIP #5
Always be polite, professional, and friendly. It can be easy to get yourself worked up over tax assessment issues. Statements like, “But my neighbor only pays half for the same size property” or “Our garage is 35 years old!” are frequently heard being yelled from inside the tax assessor’s office. But the people doing the yelling are not doing themselves any favors. Whether you’re sitting down with the assessor at his office or walking him through your house, always maintain a polite and professional tone. Don’t lose your temper. Offer him a beverage and a chance to sit down and discuss anything you disagree with instead of simply showing up at his/her office without an appointment and a with chip on your shoulder.