Ask Stacy: What Can I Do About My High Property Taxes?

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"I fought the law and the law won" doesn't always apply. Sometimes you can fight City Hall and win. I've done it twice.

Depending on where you live, property taxes can range from a slight inconvenience to a crushing expense.

Here in South Florida, for example, the annual tax bill for my 2,200-square-foot waterfront home is close to $9,000 annually. Outside Atlanta, where my parents lived, they were paying less than $1,000 per year.

But wherever you live, if you feel your taxes are unfair, you have options.

And that brings us to today’s reader question:

Do you have an article on how to fight property tax hikes? I feel like I’m being held hostage. I’m fighting my property assessment, but feel that I am hitting a brick wall despite all the evidence I’ve been providing to the various government entities. — Keya

I’ve successfully appealed my property taxes twice over the years, once in Arizona and once in Ohio.

According to the National Taxpayers Union, 30 percent to 60 percent of taxable property in the United States is overvalued for property tax purposes, yet fewer than 5 percent of homeowners challenge their assessments. In my experience, appealing tax bills isn’t all that difficult. And because it can result in saving hundreds, even thousands, every year, if you think you have a case, try it.

Step One: Learn the rules of the game

The way property taxes are computed, and how they are appealed, differs from state to state. But property taxes all start from the same place, the value of your property.

So Step One is to check the value your county is placing on your property. Historically, doing this meant waiting to receive an annual appraisal in the mail. These days you can often find this information online in seconds.

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