If you own property, there is nothing you can do about having to pay winter taxes. Yet, every year, when the property tax report comes in, listing how much has to be paid, it hits us like a ton of bricks. Regardless of whether it is simply high or even higher than you were expecting (property taxes are rising rapidly), there are things that you can do in order to meet your payments, and perhaps even to lower your payments.
You may wonder why you have to pay these taxes as a property owner. The main reason for that is that it may be that your property is resting on a piece of land that technically belongs to the country. Of course, you can debate the validity of how it is possible to “own the earth” at all, but lawmakers aren’t interested in principles like that. The government simply wants to get the money to finance its activities. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t look into your tax report and scrutinize every element of it. You need to understand the breakdown of the property taxes you have been levied and you might want to ask them to check on them and possibly reduce them.
Reduction in Property Taxes:
You may need to get in touch with a tax assessor in order to understand your different financial concerns. Tax assessors will be able to determine whether the property taxes report you have received is correct, and they can tell you about any loopholes that exist to help you pay less. Furthermore, they can then help you write an appeal letter against these taxes and send it to the right location. If you start pushing, however, tax officials will be quite quick to review what you owe in property taxes, possibly reducing the amount.
That said, don’t underestimate the power of the taxman either. They know what you have to pay and they will make sure you pay it. Hence, while you can challenge and question them, you cannot deny them the taxes that are rightfully owed.
The first time you read your property taxes report, you may come to a certain conclusion based on your own investigation. However, you need to take things a little bit further. Go to your local tax assessment office to ask for the record card that is held on your property. Browse through it, and you will quickly see that it describes every detail of your property. It is almost like taking a virtual tour through your own home, reading all the sizes and dimensions of each of your rooms. One of the things that you may also notice, however, is that there may sometimes be some errors on those cards. For instance, your garage may not be as big as they have indicated, or you may not have as many bathrooms as specified in the card. If this happens, you must immediately bring it to the attention of the tax assessor, as this will be a false entry and one that could potentially cost you quite a lot of money. This is the easiest way to get a reduction in your taxes, but probably also the least likely as errors are not overly common.
Look at Your Neighbors:
While you’re checking on whether your property taxes are correct, you should consider comparing your taxes to that of your neighbor. In most cases, neighboring homes are pretty much the same in dimensions, which means the taxes should be the same as well. If there is a significant difference between the two of you, you should both take action to have this resolved. Mainly, if yours is higher than that of your neighbor, you need to ask the tax assessor to reconsider how much they have charged you, and to possibly reduce your bill. Of course, you do run the risk that your actions could result in increasing the taxes of your neighbor instead.
Avoid Upgrading Your Property:
If you were intending to renovate and upgrade your property, perhaps adding rooms or extensions, you may want to reconsider doing that. If you do complete the renovation, there is a big chance of your tax bill increasing significantly as well. Since you are likely to be already left with very little money to spend after a renovation, the last thing you would want is for your property taxes to eat up whatever remaining savings you have.
It is a good idea, therefore, to speak to a tax adviser before you decide to add any rooms or parts to your house. This person will be able to explain exactly what the impact of your renovations will be, and whether there are ways to work around that.
Don’t Worry About the Look of Your Property:
Technically, the look of your property does not have an impact on your taxes. However, in reality, the better a property looks, the more likely it will be that your tax assessment will be higher. This is because it is expected that there are more rooms in the home and it likely to fetch a higher price if it is sold. Hence, don’t worry about making your property look a little bit less nice. It is unlikely to have a major impact, but you never know and it is worth a shot.
Join Forces with Your Assessor:
A final thing to remember is that, if you do ask for an assessor to come to your property to review your property taxes, you need to walk with the person every step of the way. You have to see what he or she sees, and you need to make sure that he or she understands your point of view. For instance, a bedroom from which all the walls have been removed might be seen as a landing rather than a bedroom, which could reduce your taxes. Once the new report has been created, you need to scrutinize it from top to bottom again, making sure that there have been no errors.
The chances of reducing your property taxes are low. That said, it is important to always check to make sure you are paying what is right. The above will help you do that.