Saturday, July 12, 2008

Meeting with the County Tax Appraiser

Going in to this, I really wasn’t too worried. I felt confident. I had a reasonable and logical argument. LOL.

I mailed in a protest of my property taxes on June 2nd. I then received a hearing notice set for July 16th. I called the county appraisers office and was surprised to hear that I would only get 5 minutes to talk about my case, then the appraiser would defend the county’s position for 5 minutes then the board would discuss it for another 15-20 and deliver a decision. The clerk encouraged me to come in ahead of time to settle this with an appraiser. I agreed.

At the appraisers office, I made my way to the fifth floor, signed in and waited in a line of 4 or 5 others. My appraiser, Jack, called me to his office. He looked all the part of a beaten down government worker with a dry sense of humor.

I began by comparing land values based on price per square foot. He would have no part of that. He said he couldn’t change the valuations and I would have to take it up with the board at my hearing. I complained that #1 - I didn’t want to make another trip and #2 - I was told he could make such judgments. He told me that all of the lots were set at one price and my lot was at a 30% higher premium because it has a creek running through it. What a shocker! This “creek” is actually a mosquito infested, beaver swamp and I am being charged extra for it? He said, “it’s all in how you look at it” This was going nowhere.

So, I switched tactics and showed him an estimate for repair on a retaining wall. He balked a little at first saying they don’t normally accept that kind of thing. I explained that the wall was critical to the home foundation. Since I had taken the trouble to get the estimate, he agreed to take the cost of the new wall off the market value of the house. He then asked me if I was going to come see him at the mission when he loses his job for doing this?

Believe it or not, I felt sorry for the guy.

Even so, I pressed on and showed him an estimate for the cost of replacing my roof. I told him what the insurance company had paid me and what it was going to cost me. He quickly agreed to slash that amount from the house value. He said that they would probably re-appraise the house later when the roof was replaced – so expect it to go up next year. Fine, I will take my chances on that.

All told, I was able to get my appraised house value decreased by $25,370. Based on my local tax rates, I figure I will save about $600/year. The county typically appraises every three years, so I will probably reel in about $1800 in savings from this little protest. Not bad for a few hours of my time.


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  2. Glad to hear it turned out so well.

    Love the Govt workers response:

    “it’s all in how you look at it”

    Too funny! =)

    Your work was so thorough, I think you would have also done very well if you opted for the hearing. I'm thinking that the Govt side would have come in unprepared thinking there were just going to be dealing with someone whining about their taxes without much if anything to back them up. I'm sure you would given them the "Financial Engineer's" version of shock and awe with the level of detail/quality of your case.

  3. Congrats. Well done.

    In my country, the local Government just comes up with a figure and say that they know best. And we meekly pay.

    We are working on slowly changing the Government.

  4. congrats! keep up the good work/this is a great presentation.