5 Tips to Protesting Your Property Assessment


Before discussing how to take your best shot at challenging your County's valuation, it's a good idea to understand how taxes are calculated. It's a simple calculation: MILL LEVY x ASSESSED VALUE = TAX AMOUNT. Levies are determined by local taxing authorities. Assessed Value is determined by the Assessor's Office.

Counties are big, and make the majority of valuations through mass appraisals using automated models of comparable home sales in a surrounding area to determine Real Property Value. Valuations consider regional location, neighborhood, property type, and home characteristics (quality, living size area, age, bath type/count, garage type/size, basement type/size, heating type).

To Take Your Best Shot at Protesting Your Tax Valuation:

  • Base your protest on identifiable characteristics and conditions of your property. Haven't made upgrades since it was built, while homes that sold in the last two years were improved and remodeled? Your property is arguably worth less than the homes that were used to assess its value.

  • Examine County records. They can inadvertently overstate square footage, number of rooms, or show a basement that is finished when it isn’t. Detail any discrepancies, bring photos and available documentation to corroborate.

  • Do you have structural damage that needs to be fixed? Provide information, with pictures. Documentation is your friend.

  • Have a recent appraisal determining a lower value? Provide it! This report is powerful.

  • While it is very convenient to file a protest by mail or on-line, an in-person filing at your County's Assessor's office will best assure that your protest receives the careful and personal attention it deserves to be approved.

Valuation is only part of your total property tax equation. Below are three more ways that may help reduce your overall property tax.

  • Homeowners 65Y+ who have lived in their home for 10+ years pay half property taxes on first $200,000 in value. A similar exemption is available for permanently disabled veterans. Call your Assessor's office for more information.

  • Disabled persons or persons 60Y+ may be able to trade volunteer hours in lieu of taxes in "property tax work-off programs." Check with your local government and school district.

  • Local governments hold budget hearings in late summer and early fall. Attend them to learn about issues that affect taxing rates and encourage smart spending.


 

Michelle Schwinghammer is a REALTOR®, Certified Negotiation Expert® and Pricing Strategy Advisor® who helps people buy and sell in all price ranges across the greater Denver metropolitan area.


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