Author Topic: Fighting the property tax  (Read 1242 times)

K-ice

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Fighting the property tax
« on: February 08, 2019, 04:34:53 PM »
Does anyone have experience fighting property tax?

I live in an old neighborhood with a wide range of homes. 1940 salt boxes to 100y old brick mansions to new ravine view condos.

Our tax has just gone up and up and up 8% a year the ten years we have lived here.

We have not done major renos. We did upgraded the electrical and roof but there is still so much to do. People literally come over and ask "when are you renovating the kitchen?" since it is locked in the 1980's.  I don't mind.
We have that saran wrap stuff over our cold windows.  Our furnace is from the 80's.

Our neighbourhood has gone up about 3% per year but other homes around us have not increased at the same pace.

For example there are 2 that sold for much more than me (like 1.5 times & double) 1 to 2 years before ours but one is valued less than ours and one is valued only 10% more. Both are valued less than their sale prices.

There is another one that sold the same year as us for 100K less.  It has been GUTTED new double garage and it is still valued 100K less. 

I've compiled a list of 15 properties that are valued less than mine but I feel should be worth more or similar.  I know I am kind of cherry picking, but the average of this list is $130K less than us.

The direct neighbor to the left and right are valued at $220K and $260K less than ours. Identical sized lots. When I mentioned that on the phone the reasoning was because they are "derelict".  True the one is vacant now and they are about to demolish it but last summer it was used. It would have been grander than our place at one time, and is larger & on a corner lot but they let it go to shit.  And now I need to look at it while I pay almost double tax. GREAT! The other is a rental that has a new roof but needs some TLC.  (I think I will use the derelict neighbor view as a point to lower my tax.)

I contacted the city and they are coming to do an inspection and check square footage (off by 500sqft I think) but I do not know what else they might listen to.  Our basement is on record as partially finished but it flooded the first year and we ripped out the carpet and now just use it for storage. Contrary to the lower valued home behind us who put in a nanny suite.

Oh, there is a house 1 block over. It is literally a twin on a 3/4 smaller lot. I know it is owned by an old may and should be worth less than ours but not $300K less.

I really don't want to call out all my neighbors with their fancy new garages etc. but looking around we are getting screwed.

Does anyone else have experience fighting the tax man? 

(Tax "man" just roles of the tongue, no offence intended.)







Kroaler

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2019, 05:53:37 PM »
Fought and won.   It's a real hassle. 

And you need solid evidence like a current appraisal to even have a chance.

In my county I had to file an official request.  Then it gets reviewed, them they call to schedule you an audience with a small property tax assessment council where they tear down every valid reason you provide.

Then maybe you win maybe you don't.    For some reason they agreed with me and lowered mine, even though I wasn't left with that feeling after my audience with the group.

SwordGuy

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2019, 08:57:29 PM »
I've fought several times and won most of the time.

Never had an appraisal handy.

Twice I showed that either the house was uninhabitable or in real disrepair.  (These were investment properties.)

For my own, I showed that the other 7 properties on our 8 property street went up in value in a totally nonsensical way.  Valuation increases ranged (I'm going from memory) from 18% to 900%.   There was simply no sense to it the valuation changes.  Not only that, but the wrong properties went up the most!   In addition, I showed that the facts on our house were incorrect (no deck, etc.) and that the house next door had been valued 40% less just one year earlier when it sold.  I showed that it had had $60-80k worth of renovations on it in the last year and ours had had none.


I never got as much off as I wanted, but it was always worth my time.

theoverlook

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2019, 07:48:56 AM »
I've fought the valuation several times and each time is was simple and easy. The first time, I had just bought a piece of land and it was valued for more than I paid so I filed a complaint and was called to the board of revisions. I went to the hearing with the closing documents and they took a copy and approved the valuation decrease. The second time, same deal, I bought my current house and the valuation was higher than I paid. I met with the appraiser and he looked at my (very organized) paperwork and appraisal and lowered the valuation without needing to go to the board of revisions. The third time, they had jumped my valuation up again - fortunately I had a current appraisal due to refinancing. I send a copy of the appraisal in with my complaint form and they dropped the valuation to the appraised value without even needing to meet in person.

I've done it a couple times with my commercial property, but that process is very different and requires a lawyer since it's owned by a corporation. For your purposes, you do not need a lawyer but an appraisal - or at least a written "opinion of value" - should be done. The process will vary based on where you are, but generally you file a form called something like "Complaint against valuation or assessment," and include any and all supporting documents with it. If you get an appraisal and submit it with that form, I bet you'd get your valuation dropped to whatever the appraisal was. If you submit the appraisal with the form you probably won't even have to go to any hearings.

Paying for an appraisal would be a good investment - they're usually only $300 - $400 and would save you way more than that in taxes. Assuming your opinion of value is accurate, of course!

bacchi

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2019, 11:23:30 AM »
It depends on your appraisal district.

After dismissing pictures and an appraisal, and claiming that I must've renovated because "Who wouldn't renovate such an old kitchen?", I hired an outside firm to do it. I pay them a % of the taxes they save each year. It saves me the grief of dealing with the petty assholes working in the appraisal district office.

K-ice

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2019, 12:04:24 PM »
So I had my assessor visit today. She was very agreeable. (Wasn’t a “tax man” after all.)

Started with taking measures of the outside.

Our basement footprint is on record as 723. I agree with that.  Our home is 1.75 stories.
(Not a full 2 stories there are dormers on the 2nd floor)
723X2= 1446. + a small addition 10x13 =130

So 1576 total is what I get.

Somehow our area on record is 2038 so the math doesn’t work.

She seemed to agree but it will take a few weeks for them to CAD up the plan & get back to us.

She also looked at our basement & reduced the finished area from 361 to 250.
It flooded 9y ago and I think we fixed the source but the flooring is unfinished.

She also took the “package” I prepared of nearby homes that are all valued less but some are clearly larger & nicer. Some are similar & others should be less but not $300K less.

I expect an answer in 2 weeks.

If they are off on the square footage I wonder if they would retroactively credit us....?

K-ice

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2019, 12:23:42 PM »
PS. It makes me mad the assessment doesn’t list our square footage as I would have caught this mistake years ago. I had to do some extra fancy login I only found out about this year.

kpd905

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2019, 01:53:35 PM »
I fought ours last year.  They assess every 3 years, so they increased our appraised value about 20% from the previous appraisal.  I found a few comparable listings in the neighborhood, and also told them that our roof is shot and due for replacement.  They end up dropping it to a 10% increase instead of 20%, which will save me about $1,000 total over the three years until the next appraisal.

AMandM

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2019, 04:40:32 PM »
We fought ours once and won. We submitted comps (very easy because we lived in a cookie-cutter development at the time) of recent sales that showed our house's assessment was clearly over market value.

This year we looked at comps and if anything our new assessment is under market, so we're keeping our mouths shut!

Rural

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2019, 06:53:52 PM »
We successfully contested the appraisal of the plot next to ours when we bought it by asking the appraiser to click on the topography layer of the GIS she was using. She said "oh, my!" and the appraisal dropped 70% in a few seconds. Turns out no one had noticed it was an absolutely unbuildable, unfarmable gully, worth nothing to anyone but us and maybe the guy who owns the land on the other side. They just had a standard acreage value applied to it.

Duke03

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2019, 09:33:46 PM »
I've fought mine every year and won.  Granted one year the appraiser refused to budge.  So I just sat there in the office not moving.  After about 30 seconds he said you can leave now we are all finished.  That's when I informed him that since he wasted my time now it was my turn to waste his....After about 10 minutes of me sitting there and his next appointment was waiting he claimed he'd knock 10k off my value if I left.  I looked him dead in the eye and told him I just texted my wife who was in the car with our two small children and she was on her way in to join in on the fun.  He quickly offered 20k off the value and I agreed.  Other time's I've gotten quotes to replace flooring, paint the house, do other work....  Nothing needs to be done, but they don't know that.  I have to pull these antics just to keep the appraisal value a hair less than what it really is.  Other wise they are constantly trying to jack me 20k to 40k over what it's really worth.  It's a game and if you fight them they will roll over to the sucker that just pays the bill every year without making a sound.

Jon Bon

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2019, 01:50:27 PM »
Holy shit that is awesome. Screw that guy!

Honestly that kind of sounds like something out of parks and rec. Someone threatened to sit in Ron Swanson's office with a screaming child until they got what they wanted.

I was able to get a big reduction but it was 2009 purchase and an arms length transactions so really it was just what the market said the house was worth. But mazel tov to @Duke03 who wins this thread and 100 internet points!


Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2019, 02:04:15 PM »
My dad has tried to fight it in our county, but they wouldn't budge. The problem is that they keep the "assessed" value well below market prices, then jack up the millage rates to compensate. So my dad could argue until he was blue in the face that there was no logical reason for his home to be appraised for $100,000 more than a literally identical house next door (seriously, it was the exact same builder, the exact same floor plan, same lot size, etc.). The assessor simply argued that it was technically assessed below the "market value" so he had no case. Sounds like a lot depends on your jurisdiction. If they are materially wrong about certain facts upon which the assessment is based, you'll almost certainly have a better chance of winning your case.

K-ice

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2019, 04:31:49 PM »
UPDATE.

The city has come back and admitted the square footage on record was wrong. They have agreed to reduce the value by about $40K or a $380 savings per year.

This was all done without much of a "fight" as square footage is pretty easy to calculate.

Also, they slightly reduced the "finished" basement area and are ignoring our garage/shed.

I still think we are assessed at more than other similar homes in the neighbourhood. Probably off by another $40K.
But I do believe the new assessment is quite close to sale price.  A home around the corner is for sale at more than our assessment even with a recent price drop. I don't prefer it to mine

To fight more would cost me $70 and we would need to go to the board. (I'm not fire and work FT.)

My feeling was give it a year and see if the others around us go up.  Very Schadenfreude of me, but a lot of this tax game is relative comparisons.

My partner wants us (me) to fight it more.

Should I fight more?
Do you think I can get any retroactive compensation for the incorrect square footage over the past years?





K-ice

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2019, 04:36:17 PM »
... So my dad could argue until he was blue in the face that there was no logical reason for his home to be appraised for $100,000 more than a literally identical house next door (seriously, it was the exact same builder, the exact same floor plan, same lot size, etc.). The assessor simply argued that it was technically assessed below the "market value" so he had no case. ...

I think this is kind of my issue now. We are pretty close to market but assessed higher than others. Gurrrrr

GreenEggs

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2019, 01:56:50 PM »
We just had a reassessment.  One neighbor's value increased by $1M and another's increased 110%.  We're moving... LOL


The next county over is 1/2 our rate, but they don't include trash collection. 

ilsy

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2019, 11:44:07 PM »
So I just sat there in the office not moving.  After about 30 seconds he said you can leave now we are all finished.  That's when I informed him that since he wasted my time now it was my turn to waste his.... After about 10 minutes of me sitting there and his next appointment was waiting he claimed he'd knock 10k off my value if I left.  I looked him dead in the eye and told him I just texted my wife who was in the car with our two small children and she was on her way in to join in on the fun.  He quickly offered 20k off the value and I agreed.
Wow, these are the words to live by. I need to write it down and use the next time I make an appointment with the city appraiser. I usually just sit and smile, and since I'm a good looking gal, it works wonders with elderly overweight city appraisers.
 
I argue every year, and even though I don't get what I ask, the city usually meets me in the middle, which I think is fair. But they keep increasing the value every year, since the housing prices keep climbing up. And in my prime school area they are up 200% since I bought the house in 2012. It gets tougher and tougher to argue that my house is worth less than $200k, when the house next door that has the same layout, and about 150sqft less than mine gets sold for $315k last year with old windows and a dilapidated yard and a retaining wall. When the appraiser showed me this house on his computer screen, the only thing I could say was, those people are crazy to pay that much. And he doesn't even know about two more flips in the area that are definitely going to be sold for >$300k, judging by the renovated exterior.
The process of arguing property taxes in our district has several steps. At the beginning of January we get the appraised value in the mail and are offered to meet with the appraiser for a preliminary hearing. The meetings are scheduled in the last week of January. Then, based on what we had to say, by mid May they come up with the "corrected" value (I don't think that my appraiser is the only deciding factor on the matter, so "wasting his time" technique might not work).

Then till the end of June or July we can argue the new corrected value on-line with the equalization board (if we are still unhappy with it). They give two options to argue, based on a fair appraisal and based on property condition. I usually argue in both categories, which takes me about 2-3hours. In "fair appraisal" category I bring all the properties that have similar sqft as mine, physically close to me, built in the same year (or close in age) and are appraised for less (off course I am cherry picking).
@Duke03 gave me a great idea to get quotes for things that "need" repaired and submit them in the category of property condition. The problem is, I bought this property renovated, and every year added improvements of my own, so figuring out what "needs" repaired is not very easy. I want to upgrade the garage door (don't know how much that would knock out off my property value).

When I personally (at the hearing) argue my personal property value, I usually bring my rentals papers along too. My rentals are already valued low, so the chances are pretty slim that I can get them even lower. The bad thing on my "total guts" is that after the final inspection by the city, they are getting the age of "0" instead of "115" and that is going to affect the value.

I think overall, increasing property taxes on houses that get remodeled and improved, is wrong, because it seems that good owners, or landlords get punished for keeping their properties in good shape, and bad owners and slumlords with decades of differed maintenance get rewarded with low taxes.   

K-ice

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2019, 09:13:02 AM »
I think overall, increasing property taxes on houses that get remodeled and improved, is wrong, because it seems that good owners, or landlords get punished for keeping their properties in good shape, and bad owners and slumlords with decades of differed maintenance get rewarded with low taxes.

I know, this is the part that drives me nuts, perhaps more weight should be on lot value. That way even empty parking lots or brown fields would pay more of their fair share. 

And we don't even have a remodeled house. I would argue it is "maintained". Our 100y old hardwood floor has more scratches than an NHL goalie crease. Our kitchen & furnace are from the 80's.  Sure it has a new roof, paint, & upgraded electrical but nothing luxurious.

A certain rate per $1000 for land value and a lesser rate for building value.  Both can be "market value" but it is so frustrating to see homes literally fall to the ground around me and then they pay almost no tax.

GreenEggs

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2019, 09:22:09 AM »
I think overall, increasing property taxes on houses that get remodeled and improved, is wrong, because it seems that good owners, or landlords get punished for keeping their properties in good shape, and bad owners and slumlords with decades of differed maintenance get rewarded with low taxes.

I know, this is the part that drives me nuts, perhaps more weight should be on lot value. That way even empty parking lots or brown fields would pay more of their fair share. 

And we don't even have a remodeled house. I would argue it is "maintained". Our 100y old hardwood floor has more scratches than an NHL goalie crease. Our kitchen & furnace are from the 80's.  Sure it has a new roof, paint, & upgraded electrical but nothing luxurious.

A certain rate per $1000 for land value and a lesser rate for building value.  Both can be "market value" but it is so frustrating to see homes literally fall to the ground around me and then they pay almost no tax.


Then the folks with larger lots would complain. 




K-ice

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2019, 09:57:40 AM »
I think overall, increasing property taxes on houses that get remodeled and improved, is wrong, because it seems that good owners, or landlords get punished for keeping their properties in good shape, and bad owners and slumlords with decades of differed maintenance get rewarded with low taxes.

I know, this is the part that drives me nuts, perhaps more weight should be on lot value. That way even empty parking lots or brown fields would pay more of their fair share. 

And we don't even have a remodeled house. I would argue it is "maintained". Our 100y old hardwood floor has more scratches than an NHL goalie crease. Our kitchen & furnace are from the 80's.  Sure it has a new roof, paint, & upgraded electrical but nothing luxurious.

A certain rate per $1000 for land value and a lesser rate for building value.  Both can be "market value" but it is so frustrating to see homes literally fall to the ground around me and then they pay almost no tax.

Then the folks with larger lots would complain. 


Yep! And I am probably one of those with a "larger" lot. Many cities are seeing how wasteful this is and are encouraging lot splitting and garage and garden suites.

The lot I live on in my city has one SFH.  I lived on a lot a 1/4 the size in a triplex in another city. So basically 12 living spaces on the same sized lot.

I think space should be a greater valued luxury than a new roof.

I also can't think of a better way to get slum landlords & derelict owners to pay their share.  My house is flanked with a house to the north worth 59% of mine and a house to the south worth 66%. They are all on identical lots, were all built in the same year, all have 3 bedrooms and have similar square footage. Except I can look at tarps on my south neighbor's roofs. The one to the south would have been more grand at one point, we are talking 2 interior staircases.

Right now anyone who improves their home needs to pay twice, once for the actual improvement and then again for the increased tax.     

One can argue that this will hurt seniors on large lots. Fortunately there are already property tax deferral programs in my area that charge a reasonable simple interest. Simple interest is a beautiful thing on debt that I have never seen in practice before. 




GreenEggs

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Re: Fighting the property tax
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2019, 10:03:51 AM »
When too many homes are packed tightly together storm water runoff becomes an issue.  That create more regulations & increases the costs... and taxes.