You can't avoid paying taxes, and we all need to pay our fair share. However, paying your fair share shouldn't place an unjust burden on you. As a homeowner, your tax burden is doubled because you pay both income and property taxes. And they tend to rise steadily over time.
The good news, however, is that there are some things you can do to lessen the pain – and the burden.
Few of you realize they can go down to the town hall and request to view your property tax cards from the local assessor's office. The tax card provides you with information the town has gathered about your property over time, such as; the size of the lot, the dimensions of the rooms, and the number and type of fixtures in the home. Also a section on special features or notations about any improvements that have been made .
As you review this card, note any discrepancies and then raise these issues with the tax assessor. The assessor will either make the correction or conduct re-evaluation. This tip sounds simple, but mistakes are common. If you can find them, the township has an obligation to correct them.
Any structural changes to your property will increase your tax bill. A deck, a pool, a large shed, or any other permanent fixture that is added to your home is presumed to increase its value.
With this in mind, investigate how much a new addition might cost in terms of property tax prior to construction. Call the local building and tax departments. They'll be able to give you a ballpark estimate.
Tax assessors are given a strict set of guidelines to go by when it comes to the actual evaluation process. However, the assessment still contains some subjectivity. More attractive homes often receive a higher assessed value than comparable houses that are less physically appealing.
Resist the urge to improve your property prior to the assessor's arrival (which is usually a scheduled affair). If possible, don't make any physical improvements or cosmetic alternations to the home (new counter tops, stainless steel appliances, etc.) until after the assessor has done the evaluation.
It is important to review comparable homes in the area and general statistics about the town's evaluation results. You can often find discrepancies that could lower your taxes. For example, let's say that you have a four-bedroom home with a one-car garage, and your home was assessed at $550,000. Your neighbor also owns a four-bedroom home, but this house has a two-car garage, a 150-square-foot shed and a beautiful swimming pool. Despite this, your neighbor's home was valued at $500,000.
Was there a mistake? There probably is an error – unless your property has some other distinguishing characteristics that explain the discrepancy. With all of this in mind, if an error is found, it pays to bring it to the assessor's attention so that you can get a reassessment if necessary.
You don't have to allow the tax assessor into your home
But, If you do not permit access to the interior , the assessor assumes that you have made certain improvements. This could result in a bigger tax bill.
After allowing the assessor , don’t leave the tax assessor to wander about their homes unguided during the evaluation process. This can be a mistake. Some assessors will only see the good points in the home – the new fireplace or marble-topped counters in the kitchen. They'll overlook the fact that several appliances are out of date, and some small cracks appearing in the ceiling.
To prevent this from happening, be sure to walk the home with the assessor and point out the good points as well as the deficiencies. This will ensure that you receive the fairest possible valuation for your home.
Don't assume that your tax bill is set in stone. A little homework and due diligence can help reduce the burden.
Remember avoid making any improvements right before your house is due to be assessed. Check out the neighbor; If they pay less tax than you but own similar homes, you could be in line for a tax reduction.