States calculate property taxes based on assessment value. The property assessment comes from the appraisal district or the assessor’s office. The appraisal district may set an assessment value and appraise properties as a group, adjusting all property in the area by a percentage up or down. If your property has unusual characteristics or recent changes, you may be able to lower the assessment to reduce your property taxes. Errors and exemptions also may entitle you to lower taxes.
Review your appraisal, assessment and property tax information for accuracy. Note the information used to prepare the appraisal. Compare the square footage with the size of improvements shown and ascertain that the improvements appearing on the appraisal exist. If your home has 1.5 bathrooms, the appraisal should not list it as a two-bathroom house. Your appraisal may show outbuildings that you have removed. An aboveground pool does not have the same value as an in-ground pool.
Visit your appraisal district office or the online records for your county to compare your appraisal with other appraisals in the district. Locate properties with similar improvements and compare the appraised values. Look for comparable properties valued lower than yours; lower values represent lower property taxes.
Compile notes of any changes or inaccuracies shown on the appraisal and assessment. Make a list of the properties that are comparable to yours but have a lower appraised value.
Review allowable exemptions. Some states have a homestead exemption; others freeze taxes for seniors who request it. There are also disability exemptions and veterans’ exemptions. Apply for all exemptions for which you qualify.
Complete the form attached to your property tax notice or request forms from your appraisal district to protest your property taxes. Forward the completed form to your tax appraisal office. Expect a telephone call or a meeting with the appraiser who handles your area.
Present your case and the reasons why your property taxes are in error or are higher than those of similar properties. Be polite but firm. If the appraiser does not adjust your property taxes downward, you can appeal to the board of equalization or appraisal review board for your district. File the form for appeal and prepare a presentation for the board. You will receive notification of an appearance date for your presentation.
Appraisal districts use a percentage of the assessed value of the property for appraisal. For example, Louisiana uses 10 percent; Nevada uses 35 percent of the assessed value for appraisal and taxes. Lowering your assessment and taxes in the current year will affect your taxes for years into the future.
Call and ask if there is a charge for pursuing an appeal. ABC News suggests that some taxing districts may charge a fee for an appeal. Pursue your claim to reduce the assessment and property taxes through the appeal process if necessary. Some taxing districts frown on repeating claims from year to year and ask if you have made a previous claim.