Procedures and Deadlines
Please read the second page of the abatement application (PDF) for the procedures and deadlines that apply.
When you receive your third quarter actual tax bill, read it for instructions about deadlines and filing procedures. If they are not clear, call the assessor's office for information. Be sure you understand and follow instructions. A missed deadline or incorrect filing can cause an appeal to be dismissed.
The first step in an appeal is usually an informal meeting with someone in the assessor's office. (Sometimes this informal review is handled by telephone or mail.) Information on the mechanics and deadlines for setting up an appointment should be included with your assessment notice, along with similar information for the entire appeals process. The information in the assessor's office is public in most states. This information may be helpful in preparing your appeal.
Prepare for the meeting. Find your property identification number on your assessment notice. Use this number to view or obtain a copy of your property record from the assessor's office. Review the facts on the property record. Is the architectural style correctly stated? If not, a recent photo of your home will help correct the information.
Check the living area of your home, the size of your lot, the number of bathrooms and bedrooms, the presence or absence of a garage or finished basement, the construction materials, the condition, and so on.
Gather as much information as you can on similar properties in your neighborhood. Ask the assessor's office or a real estate broker for sales prices on these properties. Use the addresses of comparable properties to review their property record forms, which should also show their appraised values. Compare the features of these properties to the features of yours. If there are differences, the values of the properties may be different.
The purpose of the informal review -which is not yet an appeal- should be (1) to verify the information on your property record form, (2) to make sure you understand how your value was estimated, (3) to discover if the value is fair compared with the values of similar properties in your neighborhood, (4) to find out if you qualify for any exemptions, and (5) to be sure you understand how to file a formal appeal, if you still want to appeal. The person conducting the meeting will probably review your property record form with you and give you information about comparable properties. Present any information you have gathered.
The person conducting the meeting may not commit to a change in value at this meeting, even though you may have uncovered an error or the assessment appears to be inequitable. The decision about a value change may have to be made by someone else and communicated to you in writing. If this is so, find out when you may expect to hear from the office.
View the assessor's office as an ally, not an adversary. Employees of the office have been trained to be calm, polite, and helpful, but they are only human. If you can be calm and polite, they are likely to be more helpful and can concentrate on giving you the information you need for an appeal.
The Appeal Process
Residential appeals are often settled at the local level. If you are not satisfied with the results of your informal review, you have several more opportunities. The first level of formal appeal is usually to a local board. Your appeal is more likely to be successful if you present evidence that comparable properties in the same neighborhood are assessed for less than yours. Copies of property record forms on your comparables, with records of their estimated market values or sales prices are your best defense. Note any differences between your property and the comparables and point out these differences. A recent appraisal of your own property may be good evidence of its value. The Assessors will be interested only in the fairness and accuracy of the value placed on your property, not in whether you can afford to pay your taxes or whether taxes are too high.
If you disagree with the local board's decision, additional administrative or legal remedies are available. Information about these is available from your assessor's office.