Property taxes too high and outdated? Don't wait, appeal
That's the question more and more homeowners are reportedly asking themselves nowadays as they try to deal with property taxes on their homes that no longer represent anything remotely resembling reality.
The Baltimore Sun newspaper tells the story of one man who bought a house for $165,000 last spring, but the state's tax assessment on the property, made two years before his purchase, values the home at $268,000.
But rather than wait it out till the next official reassessment, the man in question opted to do something that many people probably don't even know they can do: He appealed the assessment.
In Maryland alone, says the Sun, so-called petitions for review have skyrocketed from a little more than 5,000 last year to more than 15,000 this year.
There is even limited but growing on-line help for those wanting to appeal their property taxes. ValueAppeal, which is based in Washington state, offers appeal help for a nominal fee. Currently, the site offers help for three states but plans to expand.
In many parts of the country, the real estate market has changed dramatically in a short period of time. Waiting for an official reassessment just doesn't make any sense. By appealing (and if you win), you are not cheating the tax collector, you are possibly stopping the tax collector from cheating you!
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle."