Along with all of the great things that home-ownership has to offer there's a downside: property taxes. While these taxes go towards paying for public services, such as road maintenance and emergency services, they can be a drain on your finances every year. For as long as you own the house, you'll have to pay property tax on it, so you're probably hoping that there are some ways that you can lower your bill a bit. Here are four things you can do to make sure you're paying the right amount:
Check Your Property Card
Many of the steps you can take to lower your tax bill involve ensuring that what you are already paying is fair. With that in mind, your first step will be to obtain a copy of your property card, so that you can ensure all of the information that's on it about your house is correct. Mistakes are easily made, so it's important to ensure that there are no mistakes that are costing you extra money. Check all of the details on the card, such as the number of bathrooms or dimensions of rooms, against the reality of your house. If you find any discrepancies contact your assessor.
Compare with Your Neighbors
When it comes to your property tax bill comparing your situation with your neighbors can sometimes help lower your costs. You can find out how much your neighbor's pay in their property tax just as easily as you can find out information about your own home. If you have a neighbor whose house is basically identical to yours but they are paying less in tax then you can contact the assessor's office and request a reassessment. However, before you bring it to the attention of the assessor make sure that you haven't compared your situation with one that's very different. If your house is a bit bigger or you've had a pool put in those things could also account for the differences.
Time Your Refurbishments Properly
If you're planning some grand improvements to your house or property make sure you're thinking about and planning for the ways this could affect your tax bill. Having work done on your house just before an assessor comes to determine the value of your house will ensure that your tax bill will be higher. Find out from the assessor's office when assessments will be done and consider not starting work until after that time. In addition, whenever you're budgeting for improvements make sure you also call to find out an estimate for how much they will affect your tax bill, so that you're getting the full picture of the costs.
Don't Try to Outdo Your Neighbors
While assessors have to follow strict guidelines when assessing your house, they're still human, and, as with most things, this leaves room for personal opinions to be involved. If you actively try to make your house look much better than your neighbors, you'll probably end up with a higher tax bill as the assessors will probably think it is worth more due to curbside appeal.