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When should I fight for a lower assessment and therefore a lower tax deduction on my property tax form?

Homeowners who know how to appeal their property assessments themselves or by hiring a good tax appeal attorney can usually get some relief. According to the National Taxpayers Union, an estimated 50 percent of homeowners who appeal their property tax end up getting some type of reduction. For a variety of reasons, assessors say they make a lot of judgment calls in valuing a home that are open to discussion with homeowners. Many times the property record for a homeowner's property has incorrect data recorded on it that raises the homeowners assessment beyond where it should be. Homeowners should check their property record, maintained in the assessor's office every time their is more than a 10 percent change in their assessment.

Do assessors mind appeals?

According to the February 2006 issue of Smart Money a tax appraiser for one county in Florida said he agreed to reduce the assessments for about 40 percent of the people who called and asked last year. Generally, assessors what to work with you. This is especially true if you have done your homework on comparable sales data in your neighborhood. But, comparable sales should be just that --- not homes of different sizes and features.

What is a good free source for comparable sales for my home?

The site http://www.zillion.com provides free instant valuations and data for 60 million homes as of March 2006. Their sales data covers 32 states and includes many counties in each of those states. Based on recasting historical sales data the site claims to come within 10% of the selling price for current Zestimates 62 percent of the time. This Zestimate provides a good beginning estimate on the value of a home but stands little chance of outperforming a professional fee appraisal or a homeowner's diligent market analysis on his home.

What should I do if comparables are not helpful in showing that my assessment is to high on my property tax form?

If the comparables are not helpful, examine your home for special issues that effect its value. Does it have water or termite damage? Do the heavy trucks going to the landfill down the road from you reduce the desirability of your home? If it does, document it.


Remember homeowners only have a month or so to file a formal appeal. Do not miss out on a potential property tax savings.



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