Appealing Property Taxes: To Appeal or Not to Appeal

Thinking about appealing property taxes? Consider this anecdote and some other factors as you make your decision.

In July of 2008, friends of mine relocated from Salt Lake to Pinebrook so that their children could attend Park City schools. The very next month, they received an extraordinarily high tax bill (about double what they expected). After a call to the Summit County Assessor’s Office, they learned a clerical error had put their permanent address somewhere in Michigan, placing them in the second homeowner category and, therefore, subject to a higher property tax rate.

Summit Park

The fix was as simple as filling out a Signed Statement of Primary Residence, but it highlighted the importance of paying close attention to your Property Tax Valuation Notice, which was mailed out last week to Summit County homeowners.

As property values continue to rebound, some homeowners are seeing increases in valuation that are higher than expected. Which begs the question: Should you appeal your valuation? The National Taxpayers Union estimates that between 30 and 60 percent of taxable property in the United States is over-assessed. If you’re considering appealing property taxes, take a peek at their Homeowner’s Checklist to help begin the process.

According to the International Association of Assessment Officers, homeowners can appeal their assessment when one of the following three things can be proven:

  1. Items that affect value are incorrect on your property record. You have one bath, not two. You have a carport, not a garage. Your home has 1,600 square feet, not 2,000 square feet.
  2. The estimated market value is too high. You have evidence that similar properties have sold for less than the estimated market value of your property.
  3. The estimated market value of your property is accurate but inequitable because it is higher than the estimated value of similar properties.

Once you’ve settled on appealing, you have 45 days from the original mailing date of your disclosure notice, or until September 15 at 5 p.m., to file an appeal either by fax or mail using an online form found here. If you do not appeal on time, you will lose your right to appeal the current value in the future.

Appeals must include a copy of your valuation notice and any evidence to support your option of market value (see additional FAQs here) which means the burden is on the homeowner. It can result in a significant reduction in tax owed, so it may be a worthwhile endeavor. For second homeowners, this savings will be even higher.

For Summit County property owners, the benefit of living in such a small community becomes apparent with your first call or visit to the Assessor’s Office. Located in the Summit County Courthouse, in the quaint hamlet of Coalville, you’re more likely to reach a real, live human being than in other large counties. Keep in mind the old adage, “you catch more flies with honey,” when dealing with the individuals who will ultimately handle your case. In Small Town America, kindness is correlative to success.

If your bottom line is to never leave money on the table, it can’t hurt to do a little research and see whether your home has been fairly assessed. The savings could be worth the time and energy it takes to work through the appeals process and your mind will be put at ease knowing that you’re not overpaying your taxes.

To learn more about available properties and sales trends in the greater Park City area, call today for an appointment, or check out a few Park City properties.

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