How to Make Tax Adjustments to Your Property’s Value

Posted on January 6, 2009 @ 2:25 am
by Mary Bush

Tax adjustments to your property’s tax assessed value (“TAV”) are subtractions that will reduce your property taxes.

It has been estimated that over 60% of all homes and commercial properties are overvalued. This means that billions, perhaps trillions of unnecessary tax dollars are over-funding our city, county and state governments.

The tax assessment system is bias for funding itself, and while it officially promotes that a property owner should take advantage of the property tax deductions; they know that most people will only get minimal relief.

The real tax reductions are a function of getting beyond the first “in-office” appeal and going straight to the Value Adjustment Board (“VAB”) and on to a judicial appeal if necessary.

For 99% of all property owners, this process is nearly impossible because of the strict requirements of the appeals system. Working within the system’s guidelines and knowing what to submit for the appeals is why professional appealers are so successful in getting the appeals system to work for them.

If your county makes adjustments it is usually for the purpose of adding TAV to your property. Adjustments that add value have “enhanced” the Fair Market Value (“FMV”) of your home or commercial property that were not on the tax rolls previously such as extra rooms, driveway, pool (in ground or not), landscaping, new roof, and many other physical improvements that the tax assessor can see from the street or has access to the permits pulled by you or your contractor for improvements.

Adjustments (exemptions) that reduce your TAV include the following exemptions: homestead. Widow/widower, disabled veteran, veteran service-connected disability, senior combat-wounded veteran, blindness, total or permanent disability (not requiring a wheelchair), total or permanent disability (paraplegics/wheelchair bound), total or permanent disability (quadriplegic), to mention a few.

These exemptions are the first line of appeal for professional tax appealers but are just the beginning of an intensive effort to get the property owner’s taxes reduced.

Adjustments that also reduce your property’s TAV could be any of the following if properly documented: comparable sales in your area, condition of the property, square footage versus other properties with similar square footage, closed sales or in certain circumstances: listed but not sold properties, actual square footage versus what is in the tax rolls, flood and drainage impact on property value, actual number of bedrooms and baths, quality of construction, age of the property, land restriction or deed restriction usage, zoning issues not taken into account.

Value of land assessment versus assessment of the physical structure, environmental impact and issues, sound or noise abatement issues, building code requirements that cause a loss of value, future land or building approvals in proximity to the property, easement and boundary issues, building to land evaluation ratio that is incorrect, highest and best usage of the property, nearby railways or expressways.

Unlawful assessments such as double assessment of common areas for condos, number of garages, code violations that required removal of illegal additions, traffic and planned future roadway or right-of-way changes, an accurate drawing (not by an architect) that details your property and what is different compared to the tax assessor’s information, and too many more to be explained here.

For the average property owner, all of the above adjustments to his property’s value can be bewildering. Not choosing the proper ones, or poor documentation, could actually result in a higher property tax assessment than he already has. Professional appealers know what works and what doesn’t and more importantly, they know how to prepare and present the documented adjustments to the VAB or the circuit court for the best possible results.

It is imperative to understand that if a property owner goes to the tax assessor’s office and meets with a clerk, and a tax assessment is granted at this level, there are likely much greater reductions available by appealing. Unfortunately, this appeal level does not favor the individual property owner and is totally in the realm of the professional appealers.

In summary, arm yourself with all the possible property value reductions that you can determine from a logical standpoint. Next make an appointment with your local tax assessor’s office and make your case to the clerk. Whether you get a tax reduction or not, next seek a professional tax appealer to resubmit your case for an even greater tax break.

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