How exactly does your city come up with your property tax value? Are you concerned that your real estate taxes might be unfairly high and want to see if you are eligible for a reduction? That is what we discuss here.

First of all, no matter how confusing your property tax statement is, with all of the various terms, ratios, millage rates, etc calculating your real estate taxes really boils down to only a few factors: the market value of your property, your cities assessment ratio and the tax rate.

The market value is what your property would sell for on the open market, without any “undue influences,” like being in a state of foreclosure, structural issues with the property, short sales time frame, etc. Again it’s what your property sells for under a normal sale.

Property Tax Valuation

The assessment ratio is very important to calculating your real estate taxes and is what is sometimes referred to as your “property tax value”. What cities do is multiple your market value, by the assessment ratio, the resulting number is the assessed value.

For example if your properties market value is $500,000 and your cities assessment ratio is 80% your property tax value would be: $500,000 x.80= $400,000 assesed value. Assessment ratios vary from state to state and from jurisdictions. Your assessment rate could be totaling different than your neighboring town.

Tax Rate

The tax rate is also known as a millage rate and is the actual rate that property owners pay in their given town. Like the assessment ratio the tax rate varies from town to town and also from building types. For example a commercial building will be taxed at a different rate than a single family home.

In addition, a single family home used as a rental property will normally be taxed at a high rate than a single family home that is occupied by the owner.

To figure out your annual taxes you multiple the tax rate by the assessed value. For example take the assessed value of $400,000 x.020 (tax rate/millage rate) = $8,000 in annual property taxes.

Property Tax Valuation

On a real estate tax appeal you can only debate the fair market value of your property. You cannot argue the tax rate or the assessment ratio (unless they made a mistake and recorded your property in the wrong category). But again, you can only argue the assessors opinion of your properties value. Keep in mind that most cities assessors are over worked and or under qualified, so they very often make outright mistakes. If you know of other similar properties in your area that sold for less than what they have recorded your property at, than you most likely have a case and could save a lot of money.

Don’t be like the 98% of property owners that don’t bother to appeal their real estate taxes. They are leaving thousands of dollars on the table for no reason. The process to appeal is really not complex and won’t eat that much of your time.