There are two elements that determine the amount of property taxes you'll pay for the year: the assessment of value and the property tax rate. Both determinations occur long before the property tax statement is sent.
Property owners are notified in writing what their assessed value is for the year. It is estimated that most owners don't challenge that value even though it could lower their tax bill. Not all appeals are successful, but many homeowners believe that it is worth the effort to try. Procedures for challenging the assessment are generally included with the letter and a deadline for filing the challenge.
An initial step is to determine the accuracy of the information on your property's record such as market value and square footage. If the record shows a higher square footage than actual, it can cause the value to be higher than it should be. Even though it may not be required, an appraisal could be proof of actual square footage that shows the square footage and value by an independent party.
Recent comparable sales are used by assessors to determine market value of a property but are usually not identified in the property record. Property owners can research comparable sales that indicate a lower value and submit them to the assessor's office either informally or in a challenge hearing.
It is important that the properties proposed to establish the value of the subject property are recent, comparable in size, condition, amenities and in the same area.
There are companies who will represent the owner to lower their assessment. The fee charged is usually a percentage of the taxes that are saved. It is not a complicated procedure and can be very gratifying to make the effort.
Your real estate professional can be a valuable source of information and experience to guide you through the process. Call me at 208.946.7816 for more information and a list of comparable sales.