A well-written complaint letter about property taxes can help you motivate your county assessor's office to address your issue of concern. Although there are formal processes for many property tax concerns, such as getting your house's value reassessed, writing a complaint letter is often the first step. A complaint letter can also help you document your concern.
Call or email your county assessor's office to determine who handles your type of complaint. Explain the nature of the complaint to the person who answers the phone, but do not actually make your complaint. For example, you might say, "Who can I write to if I feel my home's value has been assessed inaccurately for tax calculation purposes?" Get the person's name, address and phone number for follow up. Ask if there is any other information you need to have in order to contact this person, such as an ID number.
Collect the necessary supporting documents. Some types of complaints, such as that property tax rates are too high, require no documentation. However, more specific complaints must usually be supported with evidence. For example, if you intend to complain that your home's value has been unfairly assessed and your taxes are, therefore, too high, collect a copy of your home's property value assessment from your assessor's office. Also obtain a value appraisal of several other similar homes in your neighborhood. If you intend to complain that you already paid taxes for which you are being charged again, obtain a copy of your cancelled check or bank statement.
Format your letter professionally. Create one-inch margins on all four sides of the paper. Write the date on the top left of the paper, skip a line and then write the recipient's name and address on three lines. Skip a line, write "Dear" and the name of the person you are contacting. Use either a title like "Mrs." or "Ms." and the person's last name or the person's full name. Format the body into no more than three paragraphs, skipping a line between each.
Start the letter's body with a one to two-sentence formal, friendly greeting. Acceptable subjects include thanking the local official for serving the community, thanking the reader for her time or simply stating that you hope the recipient is well. This shows your acknowledgement of the individual who is reading your letter and your intention to work toward solving the complaint together. Complaint letters without this friendly opening may appear rude and may be less likely to receive a response.
State your complaint clearly in one sentence. For example, you might write, "I am writing to express my disapproval with the way my phone call on September 3rd, 2008 was handed by a member of your office."
Complete the first paragraph by explaining the complaint. Include relevant details, such as times, dollar amounts and persons you spoke with. If you are writing the letter to disagree with the property value your house was assigned, explain why you believe the amount was inaccurate. Use clear, professional language. No matter how upset you are, do not use emotional or angry language. Keep the paragraph short. If the situation you need to explain is longer than five or six sentences, finish the explanation in a second paragraph.
Write the last paragraph addressing how you think the problem could be solved. For example, ABC News notes that if you want a reassessment of your house, you should first ask for an informal meeting with the assessor's office. In this case, you might write, "I am confident that we can come to an agreement on this issue, and I would like to schedule a meeting with your office to discuss possible options." Be polite, formal and specific when making requests.
End the letter with a signature and by stating any enclosures that you have included. Write a formal closing such as "sincerely" or "regards," followed by a comma and your hand-written signature. After the signature, type your name and address. Include your phone number or email if you wish to be contacted in these ways. Skip four lines, write the word "enclosures" followed by a colon and the number of enclosed documents you are including or their names.
Miranda Morley is an educator, business consultant and owner of a copywriting/social-media management company. Her work has been featured in the "Boston Literary Magazine," "Subversify Magazine" and "American Builder's Quarterly." Morley has a B.A. in English, political science and international relations. She is completing her M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Purdue University Calumet.