A common question is how can property taxes be lowered? The answer is to file a tax appeal. In the current depressed real estate that the value of your home is often dramatically lower than the town has assessed it and you should appeal that assessment. In this economic climate, this is important to explore. A property tax appeal can drastically reduce your property tax payments. You can only appeal your tax assessment, i.e. the value the town assigns your property; you cannot lower your property tax rate.
To evaluate whether your property tax assessment is too high, first determine the fair market value of your property. Recent sales of similar properties in your neighborhood provide a good idea. Then you “equalize” your assessment to the fair market value of your property using your municipality’s “equalization ratio.” The equalization ratio is used to adjust for town-wide market fluctuations over time. Apply the equalization ratio to your assessed value to find the value the municipality has determined is the fair market value of your home (the “equalized market value” – this is usually not the same as the unequalized assessment in your tax bill). If the fair market value of your property is more than 15 percent less that the equalized market value, you should move forward with a tax appeal.