The many benefits of home-ownership can also come with some significant burdens. One of the most difficult to bear can be the obligation to pay property taxes.
The bad news is that your property tax obligation can be particularly onerous if you live in New Jersey, which levies some of the highest property tax rates in the country. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to cut your property taxes down to a more manageable level.
- Have your property independently appraised
The key to this appeal process is that, rather than trying to obtain a lower tax rate, you are trying to argue for a lower assessed value to your property. Therefore, you need to initially arm yourself with as much information as you can. An independent appraisal can cost you money, but it may be a good investment.
The independent appraisal will include listings of comparable homes in your neighborhood. This information can be invaluable to your appeal if you find there are homes of equal or greater value where the owners pay less in property taxes than you do.
- Obtain and review your home’s current assessment
You can obtain a copy of your home’s assessment by calling your local tax office. You should review this document for discrepancies in regard to the following:
- Square footage
- Finished basement
- Number of bedrooms/bathrooms
- Structural condition
If you find any differences between the assessment and your actual property, make note of them. Taking pictures can also be helpful.
- Present the facts
Once you have sufficient information, return to the tax office to make your case to appeal your property tax. Keep your documentation and photographs well organized. Highlight key findings in your presentation. Once you have made your case as professionally and clearly as you can, the tax office may ask you to fill out forms.