Win Your Property Tax Appeal by Bill Port May 28, 2014
It’s that time of year again. We all recently received our property tax bills here in Indiana. It seems that this year I am hearing fewer complaints from homeowners that they feel they are being unfairly taxed.
If you feel you are being over assessed, or over taxed, you do have the right to an appeal.
For Indiana property owners, the first installment of our most recent tax bill was due on May 10th. In Indiana, property taxes are paid in arrears, so this installment covers the first half of the property tax bill for the 2013 tax bill.
Upon receiving your tax bill, you should carefully review a few items. First, confirm that you are receiving the proper exemptions. Tax breaks are given for owner occupied properties, homes with mortgages, owners with disabilities and more. For eligible property tax exemptions, please see my previous article www.RachelPort.com/Homestead .
Next, take a look at the assessed value of your property. The assessed value is what the county has determined to be the value of your home. Indiana property tax assessments are based upon fair market value in Indiana. This means that the assessment that the county assigns your property should be very close to what your home is worth. For this reason, the process of determining if you are being properly assessed is much easier in Indiana than in other States.
For our most recent 2013/ payable 2014 tax bills, the assessed value should reflect the value of your home in 2012. In other words, the assessed value should be very close to the value that you could have sold your property for in 2012. The county uses data of similar property sales within the same area of your property to determine assessed value. This is done on a mass scale, so there are instances where they determine an inappropriate value. This value, less any exemptions that you receive, is then multiplied by the tax rate for all the taxing entities (municipalities, parks, schools) that your property is a part of. So, a lower assessment will result in a lower tax bill. If you feel that the value that the county has determined for your property is too high, you do have the right to file an appeal.
Filing an appeal is a simple process, but it must be done correctly, and it must be done by June 10, 2014 for the most recent tax assessment. The law states that to file an appeal, you must do so with a written notice to either your Township or County Tax Assessor. This notice must include 1) the name of the taxpayer, 2) the address and parcel or key number of the property; and 3) the address and telephone number of the taxpayer. This can be done using the County’s Form 130 (I have this form on my website at www.RachelPort.com/Appeal ). Form 130 also asks for justification of your change in value. The form asks for this information to discourage tax payers from making frivolous appeals. Providing data and justification of value is not a requirement for initially ‘requesting’ an appeal. In your initial written request you should request a meeting with the township or county assessor to resolve issues in hopes of coming to a joint resolution of value. This gives you the opportunity to discuss your appeal with your assessor and hopefully come to resolution prior to going before the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals. The Township or County Assessor will then notify you of a time to meet and discuss your assessed value.
For residential homes, most appeals are resolved with an initial meeting. I have found that most Assessors are very helpful with guiding homeowners through the appeal process, and if there is truly an error with your assessed value, most Assessors will help you quickly. At the initial meeting you will need to have information of properties similar to your property, that have sold from the dates of January 1, 2012 through March 1, 2013. You may obtain information regarding similar sales from county records, from a Realtor, or from an Appraiser. Sometimes having sold information of properties similar to yours will be enough to justify value to your assessor. You do not need to have an appraisal for this meeting, however, if you have an appraisal, it will help you greatly. Hopefully, you will be able to come to an agreement with your assessor at this step.
If you and your Assessor are unable to come to an agreed assessed value of your property at your initial meeting, you will need to present your appeal before the County Board. At this point, your appeal will become more complicated. If you move to this step, you are again not required to have an appraisal, but you may want to have an appraisal if you intend to win your appeal. You will need to justify the value of your property, and while having information of similar sales will be helpful, the interpretation of those values is best presented by a properly prepared appraisal report.
Bill Port and his wife, Rachel Port of RE/MAX Results have been selling homes in the South Suburbs and Northwest Indiana for over 20 years. Put their marketing and negotiating power to work for you! Links to this article and forms can also be found on our website at www.RachelPort.com/Appeal 219-613-7527
CLICK HERE to download the Department of Local Government Finance Form 130 http://www.in.gov/dlgf/files/Form-130.pdf