Are Your Property Taxes Too High?

Property Taxes 101

We all know that housing values are down from their record highs, but property taxes, for the most part, have not moved in tandem. Take the town of New Britain, Conn., where home values are down 10 to 20 percent since the height of the market. Property taxes in that town, however, are at the same levels that they were in 2007.

Are you paying too much in taxes for a home that has drastically lost value? Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger’s says you may be able to get your property taxes lowered. The first step in doing so is to look for errors. Pull the records from the assessor’s office or website that apply to your home and make sure everything lines up, from bathrooms to square footage. It is estimated that as many as 60 percent of homes are over-assessed. A little research can save a lot of homeowners a big chunk of money.

Also check your neighbors to see if they are paying significantly lower taxes. Anderson suggested comparing five to 10 neighboring homes. Their assessments should be within 10 percent of your own. If they aren’t, you have a good case for reduction. Your neighbors’ assessments are part of public record and your assessor can help you find them.

If all else fails, just make your case. You generally have 30 to 60 days after you get your tax bill to appeal and present evidence for an administrative review. After that you can take it to an independent board or a judicial hearing, but the latter step requires other legal fees which can eat into any savings you may see.