A property tax assessment appeal is a formal dispute by a property owner over the value of a certain parcel of property. Usually the assessment is an important factor in the formulation of property taxes, which are often set by the value of the real estate in question. Therefore, those undertaking a property tax assessment appeal are generally trying to lower their tax burden for a property. These appeals can be executed in several steps, depending on how quickly a satisfactory resolution is reached.
Once an owner has decided to undertake a property tax assessment appeal, the first step is generally to file a notice of, or request for, appeal with the assessor's office in the local jurisdiction, such as a city or county. The assessor's office may then make an administrative review, or schedule the appeal for a hearing before a review board. The property owner's burden in this case is to prove that the assessment was somehow in error, and that the property is overvalued.
During the property tax assessment appeal hearing, the property owner is generally given so much time to make a case. Once that initial case has been completed, the assessor may provide reasons justifying the current assessment. A review board will likely ask both sides questions about the property to determine if the assessor reached the most appropriate decision.
One of the most common strategies a property owner may undertake during a property tax assessment appeal is to get a second opinion from a private appraiser. This individual, while not specifically looking at the home from a tax standpoint, should give a basic value that shows what the property should be worth, given current market conditions and other factors. This person should be licensed by the jurisdiction in which the property is situated.
Another strategy during a property tax assessment appeal is for the property owner to do some research, and present a list of comparable properties during the appeal hearing. These properties should closely resemble the disputed property in age, types of improvements, and extent of improvements. For example, if the property in dispute is a 20-year-old, three bedroom home on a quarter-acre lot, homes used in the comparison should be similar homes in the same area. The owner does this by analyzing recent sales data and other assessments.
If the owner is not pleased with the decision coming out of an administrative review or appeal board, there are other steps he or she can take. Generally, that next step may involve going before a city council, or perhaps into a court of law. While the burden of proof remains the same, some entities may require more information, such as further comparisons or more detailed property history, when continuing an appeal to the next level.