Updated: Dec 24, 2020
Two factors determine how much you pay in residential property taxes each year. The first factor is the tax rate, which varies among communities based on different levies. The second factor is the appraised value of your home. The appraised value of your home is determined by the county auditor or, in some counties, the county fiscal officer. The amount you owe in property taxes is calculated by multiplying your local tax rate by the “assessed value” of your home. The assessed value of your home is thirty-five percent of the value at which the county auditor appraised it.
The county auditor or fiscal officer reappraises each property in their county every six years. The reappraisal process includes a county employee making an assessment of your home. Although best efforts are made by county employees, the reappraisal process is imperfect because the appraiser might not be aware of circumstances and conditions that are unique to your home. Because of this imperfection, it is important for you to keep track of the accuracy of the county’s appraised value of your home because it will have a direct impact on how much you pay in property taxes.
If you believe your home has been overvalued by the county auditor, you have the opportunity to challenge that appraisal by filing a complaint with the County Board of Revision. The Board of Revision will set your case for a hearing after reviewing your complaint for compliance with filing requirements. The complaint and the hearing are legal proceedings, which means you can represent yourself or you can have an attorney represent you. However, you may not have a non-attorney file the complaint or appear at the hearing on your behalf. Some counties make an exception to this rule when the property owner is a limited liability company or a trust.
In presenting your complaint to the Board of Revision, it is generally not enough to merely argue that there was a significant increase in your home’s reappraised value. Nor is it enough to argue that you, as the homeowner, believe the reappraisal value is too high. Rather, you have to present evidence to show how much you believe the reappraised value should be.
Especially strong evidence is the purchase of your home in the past three years at a price lower than the county auditor’s reappraised value. Such a purchase must have been made in an arms-length transaction in order to be persuasive. Other evidence to support your position would be a recent appraisal of your home conducted by a professional appraiser. Proof of significant defects in your home as evidenced by photographs and repair estimates from professional contractors is also helpful. A market analysis of your neighborhood that was assembled by a licensed realtor could also support your complaint.
In deciding whether to challenge the county auditor’s reappraisal of your home, first ask yourself whether you can present evidence that supports the amount for which you believe your home should be reappraised. If you are not sure whether you can find such proof, ask yourself whether you honestly believe you could sell your home for the amount at which the county auditor reappraised your home. Finally, if you think you might have a valid complaint for the Board of Revision to consider, ask yourself how much you will save in property taxes versus how much it might cost to assemble and present the evidence you need to prove your case.
In some cases, presenting your complaint to the Board of Revision will be straightforward and inexpensive simply because the county auditor was not aware of circumstances that are unique to your home. In other cases, especially where the amount in question is high, the matter can become more difficult with third parties objecting to your complaint and could include appeals to the common pleas court or the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals. Whichever course you choose, be sure to approach the matter with a solid understanding of the process and potential challenges.
Jim Gilbride is located in Tallmadge, Ohio. He is a general practice attorney with primary practice areas including estate planning, probate, and small business counsel. You can reach Jim by clicking the link below.
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