Challenging Property Taxes
Most people understand that their property taxes are based off the value of the homes or businesses they own. This valuation is reviewed yearly and property taxes are adjusted up (or down) accordingly. At least, this is how the system is supposed to work. In reality, valuations can vary widely and often times the assessor’s office is simply too overwhelmed to be able to do more than a cursory evaluation of the property’s value, leaving the property owner to wonder if they are being taxed fairly.
In the current market, it’s especially important to review your property tax assessment and, if needed file an appeal. Although the appeals process is fairly straightforward, having professional assistance in the process can mean the difference between a successful appeal (lower taxes!) or a great deal of wasted effort.
Municipalities do not like losing money and (again, thanks to the depressed real estate market) are being sticklers when it comes the appeals process.
Hiring a Professional
A professional appeals agent understands the appeals process, knows the market conditions and most importantly, knows where the little “gotchas” are when it comes to the red tape. Simply going in and appearing before the appeals officer and saying “I think my taxes should be lower,” simply will not cut it.
There are two different ways an appeals agent can help; coaching you through the process (you still plead your case yourself) or having the agent stand in on your behalf. Either way can help better your chances of winning your property tax appeal.
A professional appeals agent can work with you on how to correctly come up with a property valuation based on comparable sales, walk you through the entire appeals procedure and coach you on how best to present your case. The agent can run through the various questions you are likely to be asked and help you best phrase your responses. This is usually a less expensive option.
Going this route relieves you of all the work…from filing the paperwork, to collecting the required information to the appeal itself. This is a more expensive option, but it relieves you of the associated hassle as well.
How Much Lower Will My Taxes Go?
Of course, you are interested in saving money, but the fact is no one will be able to guarantee you an actual amount saved (if they do, they are scam artists…run!). The fact is you may not save a dime. The appeals officer may look at the information presented and determine your valuation is correct (or in some instances…not high enough and actually raise it!). However, hiring a professional and having a clear picture of your situation will go a long way to achieving your desired outcome.
Is It Worth The Effort?
No one likes taxes. This is not about avoiding social responsibility. However, you have the right as a citizen to be taxed appropriately. Many property owners know they are being overtaxed, yet do nothing about it thinking it’s too difficult of a process. The fact is, appealing your property valuation can save you money and at the same time, help promote fairness in government.
Is There a Guarantee?
The short answer is no. However, with the proper information and planning many cases are ruled in favor of the property owner, resulting in significant tax savings.
How Do I Get Started?
The best thing to do is call a property tax agent and talk with them. They can usually give you an idea if your case if worth pursuing or not after collecting some very basic information. They are very likely to have a working relationship with the Gwinnett County tax assessor.