How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment

Property Tax Assessment

When is the last time you did an analysis of your property tax assessment? If it’s been a while, you might want to review the annual notice of assessment and consider filing an appeal.

Many businesses and bank branches forget that property tax bills are not a fixed cost. Properties are not always assessed correctly, and their values can change over time. For banks, appealing your bank branch property taxes can ultimately lower operating costs and subsequently lower your non-interest expense. For commercial property owners, a successful appeal can cut expenses and improve cash flow.

Should I appeal my property tax assessment?

Before we explain the steps in the appeal process, we first need to consider the reasons to appeal property tax assessments. Whether you’re a bank branch or commercial business, the most significant benefit of appealing is the potential to save money on your property tax bill. So, the question you need to ask yourself when deciding to file is: “Will appealing my property tax assessment save me money?”

That’s where your annual notice of assessment comes into play. You’ll first want to take a look at the year-to-year changes in your property’s appraised value. If the values differ by a few percentage points each year, that’s normal — filing an appeal in this scenario wouldn’t be worthwhile. However, if the year-to-year values jump significantly — let’s say more than 10 percent — appealing your property tax assessment is worth exploring.  

After you consider your circumstances and make the decision to appeal, you’ll want to act quickly. Local governments send tax assessment notices throughout the year depending on the jurisdiction. Upon receipt of your notice, you usually have about 30-45 days to challenge the market value of the jurisdiction.

How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment in Four Steps

Filing a property tax appeal is a relatively straightforward procedure, but do be advised that these types of proceedings can take time and require thorough and proper documentation for your appeal to be successful.

Step 1: Review annual notice of assessment.

You should consider the following upon notification of the property valuation set for the tax year: Is the value reasonable? How was the value determined? Which approach to value or methodology did the jurisdiction use? Is any personal property included in the real property value that should be separated? Does the value accurately reflect the correct inventory and attributes of the property? Has appropriate depreciation been considered? Was there a significant increase in value? If so, why? Are exemptions correctly applied if applicable (i.e., historical, agricultural, etc.)?

Step 2: Evaluate comparables in the area.

The next step in the appeal process is to evaluate the comparables in the area. Wondering how to find comparables for property tax appeals? It may take a little digging, but a visit to the Board of Tax Assessors will reveal what’s on file. Local brokers or appraisers in the area may also share data regarding sales, listings, or lease information.

This is an important part of the appeal process because you’ll need this information to support your appeal. For example, if you can demonstrate that comparables in your area are selling for less than your assessed value, you have sufficiently demonstrated grounds for an appeal. If, on the other hand, comparables are assessed similarly to your own, your appeal may not hold up.

Step 3: File your property tax appeal.

To officially file your appeal, you must fill out a form with the Board of Tax Assessors. At this time, you will also need to provide supporting evidence to bolster your case. Such evidence could be comparable data mentioned in the previous step, recent appraisals, photos of deferred maintenance, a description about an issue with the property (i.e., zoning restrictions, ingress/egress, noise, traffic, etc.), listing or contract information, or rental/income history.

The form itself is relatively straightforward and about one page in length. You will need to specify your grounds for appeal, which include: value, uniformity, taxability, exemption denial, breach of covenant, and/or denial of covenant. You may also be required to provide the owner’s assertion of value, along with the property class and any additional comments.

Step 4: Wait for the outcome.

After the appeal is received, be prepared to wait. You should receive a letter from the Board of Tax Assessors letting you know it has been received and when a decision will be made regarding your appeal.

When it comes to property tax appeals, there are a few possible outcomes and no guarantees. One possibility is that your appeal can be approved. In this instance, you’ve accomplished your goal, and the tax authority will amend the value.

Another possible outcome is that your appeal can be denied. If that happens, you have two options: you can either let the appeal die or proceed through a more formal process of appearing before a board or filing litigation. In the latter instance, you’ll want to make sure you have thorough evidence to justify your reasoning. If the appeal is denied once again, you can consider going to your county’s Superior Court for a jury trial.

So, what’s next?

While this process can be boiled down to a few seemingly simple steps, the procedure is nonetheless time-consuming and tedious, depending on how much supporting evidence is needed and how far you want to take it if your appeal is denied. In these instances, it might be helpful to hire a third-party service to handle help you appeal your property tax assessment.

Let MountainSeed Manage Your Appeal

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of filing a property tax appeal, MountainSeed can help. Our Property Tax Appeal Service is risk-free and does not require any upfront or fixed costs. We work on a straight contingency basis and are only paid a nominal fee if we save our clients money.

We also have the experience and know how to handle even the most complicated appeals. At MountainSeed, we have worked with over 600 financial institutions in addition to thousands of commercial real estate owners. Our team has extensive experience in property tax appeal scenarios and is led by an individual who oversaw a large metropolitan area’s tax assessment division for over 30 years.

In addition, we have full-time staff located throughout the country with clients located in each state. Our operational team has a multiple asset class understanding, which helps us build the correct case and strategy when going through the appeal process.

Ready to try our Property Tax Appeal Service? Contact us today to get started. Our experts are standing by to walk you through the process and answer any questions you might have along the way.