How to Lower Your Property Taxes

Joel Strasser likes to write from his Brick, N.J. home office while his wife takes golf lessons on the green behind their two-bedroom home. What Strasser doesn't like is when his property taxes go up at the same time his home value goes down.

He says a year ago the value of his one-story home in the couple's age-restricted community decreased about $30,000 while the property taxes increased. So he and some of his neighbors worked together to individually appeal the property tax increases on their homes. One of his neighbors pulled the comps (comparable home prices) for everyone and someone sat down to help Joel fill out his paperwork. "I prepared the document and signed it, but truthfully, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't understand the math." Still, those efforts paid off. About two months later -- and three equal payments in on the old bill -- he received a letter stating that his taxes were being decreased and that his remaining balance was only $10 -- a savings of about $850. The jubilation didn't last long, however, as the following year his home's value was reassessed and his property taxes went back up.

Feel like you're paying more than your fair share of property taxes? You're not alone. Many believe their homes are over-assessed.

And guess what? A high percentage of homes really are over-assessed -- anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent, including commercial property, according to the National Taxpayers Union. Yet few homeowners do anything about it. Nationally, only 2 to 3 percent of homeowners ever attempt an appeal.

That's too bad, because the process is actually rather simple.