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Tips To Lower Your Property Taxes

According to Benjamin Franklin, “…in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” And that certainly applies to property taxes.

An annual property tax, also known as a millage rate, is a real estate tax based on the value of your property, including the land. When you own property, you can expect to receive an annual bill from the local tax office detailing what you owe the city or town. 

Property taxes are calculated by taking the valuation of your home (an estimate of the worth of your home and property) and multiplying it by the local tax rate. As you probably well know, property taxes tend to increase over the years, and sometimes in not-so-small ways. According to the latest census data, the average U.S. household pays $2,471 every year in property taxes.

But before the next quarterly property tax payment is due, consider a few things you can do that might help you get a better handle on what you owe, and maybe even save you some money in the short- and long-term.


Review Your Property Tax Assessment For Errors

Your tax card includes the assessment details for your property such as the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, room dimensions, and the year it was built. Any updates and improvements to the property might also be noted. 

Review the bill for any errors in the property details or any information that may have caused your home’s value to be overestimated. If you find any discrepancies, you can request that the assessor revisit and re-evaluate your property.


Request An Independent Appraisal

You have the option of hiring an independent appraiser to assess your property’s value. Although county and real estate assessors approach home assessments differently, it is possible that a lower valuation as determined by a real estate assessor could result in a lower tax bill for your property.


Check Into Property Tax Relief 

Some states and municipalities offer property tax relief for veterans, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. Properties used primarily for agricultural purposes may also be entitled to exemptions. To qualify for tax relief, you’ll need to submit an application to your county assessor’s office.


Look Into A Homestead Exemption

In some situations, such as the loss of a spouse or the need to declare bankruptcy, you may qualify for a homestead exemption. This type of exemption, which isn’t available in all states, legally protects the value of your home from property taxes, creditors, as well as other circumstances that might arise following a homeowner’s death. With a homestead exemption, you’ll most likely be charged your local tax rate on only a portion of your home’s valuation. 


To qualify for a homestead exemption, you’ll need to meet your state’s exemption requirements, which, in addition to income guidelines, generally include that the home remains as your primary residence and that you’ve occupied the house for a sufficient period of time.


Move To An Area With A Lower Tax Rate

Because property taxes are determined by your local officials, a house similar to yours in the next town over may have a significantly lower valuation. What you pay on your tax bill is based on the property taxes in your area.

The bottom line? Any actions you take to lower your property tax bill can impact only the valuation of your home– not the rate your municipality charges residents. If you think the tax rate in your area is too high for you to manage, consider moving to an area that has a lower rate. You could end up saving hundreds or thousands of dollars over the years. And that could open the door to a whole lot of savings.