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How To Appeal a Property Tax Assessment

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you’ve ever experienced frustration or disappointment when your real estate taxes increase, you’re not alone. The good news is that if the problem is your home’s assessed value, you can protest it within your taxing authority’s approved time period. Here’s a quick look at how and when to appeal a property tax assessment.

Note: We’ll cover the basics here. Please contact your tax office for information specific to your property, as tax laws and requirements vary.

Understanding property taxes and valuations

Property taxes boil down to a few basic factors — your property’s assessed value and local and state tax rates. From there, exemptions — also known as property tax relief — can lower your final costs. These can include things like a homestead exemption, which many taxing authorities offer to discount taxes on a homeowner’s primary residence.

Depending on where you live, your property’s value may be assessed every year, every three to five years, when the property sells or transfers, or another timetable, as Investopedia explains. Assessments are usually sent in the spring, and final tax bills — which are based on them — are usually sent in the fall. That said, check your assessment as soon as you get it to start thinking about an appeal.

To keep costs from rising too fast, some areas also have property tax caps. As Kiplinger Personal Finance notes, these can limit how much assessments or tax rates can increase, or how much governing bodies can collect in taxes. Over time, your taxes may rise or fall, as these factors change.

Note: If you own a new construction home, please visit our Help Center for details on how your initial tax process may be different.

Reasons to appeal an assessment

There are a variety of reasons to protest property taxes and appeal a property tax assessment. First, check your assessment and see how it compares to neighboring properties:

  • Tax records can help you with comparisons. These are part of the public record and may even be available online. A Real Estate Agent can also help you determine your home’s value through a comparative market analysis (CMA), but a home’s resale value and taxable value can be different. (If you’re a Mr. Cooper customer, you can also find an estimate by signing in to your online account.)
  • Think about ways your property may be very different than a neighbor’s. For example, it may be in poorer condition, have fewer improvements, and so on. But your assessor may assume differently.
  • Also check your assessment for mistakes, like listing too many square feet in your home, or too much land on your property. These may push your final costs up.
  • Make sure the assessment reflects any exemptions you qualify for, especially if you applied for a new exemption for that tax period.

Additionally, estimate how much appealing the property tax assessment will save you. If protesting won’t lower your taxes significantly, an appeal may not be worth it.

How to appeal a property tax assessment

Here are the basics on how to appeal a property tax assessment, but the process can vary. That said, check your assessment for information on how to get started, visit your tax office’s website, or contact them directly.  Additionally, once you receive your tax assessment, note the deadline to dispute it. It may be just a few weeks away.

1. Research your case: Gather information about your jurisdiction’s property tax assessment regulations and guidelines. For example, the time period in which you can contest the value.

2. Find documentation: To support your case, collect evidence, such as recent appraisals and property sales data. Focus on data that suggests the property value on your bill is inaccurate.

3. Submit a formal appeal: File a formal appeal with the appropriate local tax appeals board or agency. Many tax offices let you do this online.

4. Prepare a case: Use the documentation you gathered to build a strong case for your appeal. Include photos and any relevant market data.

5. Attend hearing: If the appeals board requires an in-person hearing, attend and present your case. Be prepared to answer questions, provide supporting information, and negotiate to reach a resolution.

Also consider seeking legal advice or hiring a professional property tax consultant. These specialists could uncover strategies to strengthen your case or walk through the process with you.

If you win your appeal, make sure your final tax bill reflects the correct assessment value, exemptions, and tax rate. Notify your tax office about any mistakes. If you end up overpaying, you may be eligible for a tax refund (see our video below).

How appealing a property tax assessment may affect your mortgage

While you appeal your property tax assessment, your taxes will not be reported or paid. This means that if you’re a Mr. Cooper customer and your loan includes an escrow account, the monthly amount going into that account to save for your taxes will remain unchanged. Once your tax office certifies the final amount and a tax payment is disbursed, an escrow analysis will be run to update your escrow payment amount.

What to do if you can’t afford your real estate taxes

  • Ask your taxing authority about options, such as installment plans to repay the balance.
  • Check for additional assistance programs you may qualify for in your area that could cut your costs. These could include exemptions based on your income, age, disabilities, military service, and more that could lower future tax bills.
  • Consult a real estate attorney.
  • Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor. They can provide information on assistance that may be available to help you protect your home. You can find a counselor near you here.
  • If you’re a Mr. Cooper customer, see our information on various mortgage assistance solutions. These may help lower your overall housing costs.

As a last option, you can sell your home and use money from that to pay your taxes. If your home’s value has gone up significantly (as properties have in recent years), you could walk away with a lot of home equity in cash. You can also consider getting a loan, such as a home equity loan. But weigh the pros and cons, especially if a loan will stretch your finances more.

Property tax resources and videos

For more on property taxes, visit our Help Center’s “Escrow, Taxes, & Insurance” page. And check out these videos covering property tax exemptions and refunds more. Whenever you need it, we’ll be here to help.