Why Local Property Taxes Are So Tricky
One word of advice. Call your local assessor about property tax concerns. I love real estate professionals, but real estate tax assessments are just too important (one of the largest annual expenses after mortgage payments) to get second-hand information. When more than half are first-time home buyers and many may have moved from another assessment jurisdiction or state, many buyers are in need of assistance.
In some states, like Florida, foreign buyers are taking advantage of changes in the global economy and are in need of real estate tax advice. And small and medium sized business start-ups are taking place every day, often without fully investigating local property tax consequences.
Local assessors aren't trying to be evasive, each has their own mandates, which includes having an active public relations program, it's just a fact that there are inconsistencies.
- Inconsistencies in the effective date of value estimates for assessment and tax purposes
- Inconsistencies in when assessment notices are mailed to property owners
- Inconsistencies in when tax abatement, deferral, exemption, and incentive applications are due
- Inconsistencies in when income and expense statements or personal property declarations are due
- Inconsistencies in appeal deadlines
Granted there are some real estate professionals and property tax services (corporate tax managers and independent professional property tax firms come to mind) that make it their business to know about local tax assessments and work closely with their local assessors, these are the exceptions.
Call your local assessor. Once you have talked with the assessor you may have additional questions and concerns that other professional services can help you with. But start there. You'll be glad you did. And if you are not (unfortunately not all local assessors are successful in implementing their public relations programs), you will at least have background information to consider before approaching others for help.