Property Tax Appeal: What you should know

It’s that time of year again.  By now you have already received your latest property tax assessment and vented to anyone that will listen that your property taxes are too high!  While it is our duty to pay taxes, it is certainly not our duty to overpay.  What most people don’t know is a property tax appeal is not a difficult process.  So if you feel like your taxes are too high, follow these simple steps and you may be pleasantly surprised:

  1. Carefully review the “Tax Notice” form that was mailed to you.  Check for obvious errors first; ex. lot size, bedrooms, bathrooms, size, etc.  It is very common for this information to be incorrect and simply correcting the error could result in a quick tax reduction with no formal appeal.
  2. If the home is your primary residence make sure you are only being taxed at 4% and not the 6% ratio used for investment or non-owner occupied real estate.  There are also additional credits that you receive for your primary residence, so this is a very important area to check.
  3. Double check the calculations.  Your property tax is determined by multiplying your home’s Taxable Value by the 4% or 6% ratio to get your Assessed Value.  The Assessed Value is then multiplied by the Millage Rate (the amount per $1,000 used to calculate property taxes) for your area to get your Property Tax.  For primary residences, the credits are then deducted from the property tax.
  4. To correct any simple or obvious mistake, you can usually call the Tax Assessor’s office and take care of it over the phone.
  5. If all information about your home is accurate, but you feel the taxable value is too high, you will need to fill out an official appeal form.  This form can be obtained by calling the Real Property Services Division at the county offices and asking them to email or mail the form to you.  This form will ask you to submit 3 – 5 comparable sales that support your claim.  If you are friends with a Realtor, ask him/her to help you find the relevant comparable sales, as this is rarely an easy task.  If you don’t mind spending $300 – $600, then an official appraisal is an excellent way to go and carries the most weight.  This type of appeal will typically take 1 – 3 months from start to finish.
  6. If your review is not successful, then you have the right to appeal that decision to an independent board.  There will be a small appeal fee and the process could stretch out for several months.  If you feel like you have a good case, don’t lose heart!  Statistics show that around 50% of appeals filed are successful.

The information above is specific to Greenville County, South Carolina, but the general guidelines are relevant in most states.  If you are a resident of Greenville County, you can go to the Greenville County FAQ page for more information and phone numbers.

Drew Parker is the owner of The Parker Company real estate in Greenville, SC and has successfully appealed his own real estate assessment.   

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