Property Tax Appeals
The Law Offices of Mathew S. Evans, III represents clients throughout Maryland in property tax appeals cases and litigation. Our team of professional real estate attorneys is here to help if you feel that your tax bill was incorrectly or unfairly computed.
Property taxes are often the second most expensive cost of real estate property ownership after mortgage considerations. An unexpected property tax assessment can have a significant financial impact on a homeowner’s cash flow, the viability of a business, or a developer’s bottom line.
If you believe that your property tax bill is too high, you have the right to an official appeal. The Annapolis attorneys at the Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans, III have more than 20 years of combined experience handling real estate contracts and litigation matters.
What many in public sector don’t want you to know is that the method for figuring out your tax bill isn’t an exact science, which is why we can help with these time-sensitive appeals.
How Your Maryland Tax Bill is Calculated
Property tax assessments are completed every three years in Maryland, with a unique system in each jurisdiction. The data that is used to assess your property includes such things as the lot size, building square footage, number of baths, garage size, type of construction, and other amenities.
In most cases, a property assessor will not visit your property to complete this assessment. This is particularly true for home property tax bills. Residential assessments in Maryland are done on a mass appraisal basis, which means that there is plenty of room for error.
In Maryland, two factors are used to determine your tax bill: your tax rate and the taxable value of your home. The tax rate is uniform and based on where you live. The figure that is often up for interpretation is the taxable value of your home.
The taxable value of your home in Maryland is its “full cash value,” or what the home would sell for on the open market. This is also referred to as the “assessed value” of your home.
What is the Maryland Phase-In Process?
If the assessor raises your home’s assessed value, you won’t get hit with a 100% adjusted tax bill all at once. Instead, the state phases in your new increase over three years. For example, let’s assume that your assessed value went from $300,000 to $360,000. In the first year, your home’s assessed value would be $320,000; in year two, it would be $340,000; then in year three, it would be the full $360,000.
Just because the state is phasing in your tax assessment, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t challenge the assessed value if you believe that it’s incorrect. If you can obtain a $500 reduction in your annual property tax bill, you’d save $5,000 over ten years.
Checking the Official Tax Record for Your Home
When you receive your property tax bill in the mail, review all of the information carefully. Even a simple error, such as adding a bathroom that you don’t have, can overvalue your property. If the detailed tax record isn’t included, request a copy from your tax assessor’s office. You might also be able to obtain this information online depending on where you live.
The important items that we can help you review on your tax bill include:
- Classification – Is the property correctly identified as either a residential or commercial property?
- Size – Is the property size correct and is the lot size depicted accurately?
- Layout – Are the number of rooms and bathrooms listed correctly?
- Age – Is the property’s age correct?
- Construction – Are construction materials listed correctly?
- Improvements – Do the tax record list improvements that haven’t been made?
- Defects – Are property defects noted which could affect value?
- Price – Is the property’s original purchase price accurate?
- Credits – Are any credits or tax breaks that you’re entitled to listed in the record?
If there is incomplete or inaccurate information, our office can help you communicate with the tax assessor so that the record can be corrected and the taxable value of your property adjusted. Even if the items on the tax bill are accurate, you might still disagree with the tax assessor’s valuation of the home.
Has Your Home Been Unfairly Valued?
If you feel that your property has been valued incorrectly, you have the right to dispute the assessed value. In the state of Maryland, a successful challenge must prove at least one of these facts:
- The tax assessment office relied on incomplete or incorrect information. For example, the assessment indicated that your home had a finished basement, which isn’t accurate.
- The tax assessment set the taxable value of your home higher than similar homes in your area.
- The tax assessment places your home’s current market value higher than it actually
If you believe any of these are true about your current tax bill, you should pursue an appeal to get your taxes reduced.
Filing a Property Tax Appeal
If you don’t agree with your property tax assessment, you need to file an appeal right away, or you might forfeit some of your rights. In Maryland, you have just 45 days from the date of the assessment notice to file an appeal. When this appeal is filed, you’ve preserved your right to several different types of property tax appeals.
Maryland allows for a mail-in property tax appeal, a telephone hearing, or an in-person hearing with a property assessor. We believe that an in-person hearing with proper representation will give you the best chance of proving an error on your property tax assessment.
When we appeal property tax assessments on behalf of our clients, we evaluate each case for tax reduction purposes. Because all properties are different, the factors associated with one appeal might be completely different from an appeal for another property.
Property Tax Appeals in Maryland
Nearly all property tax appeals require research, documentation, and preparation, which is something that our firm of Maryland real estate attorneys has extensive experience with. Among the types of evidence required to appeal a property tax assessment are:
- Copies of any recent home appraisals
- Contractor’s reports, estimates, or billing records
- Documents proving actual sales of similar homes in the neighborhood
- Photographs and tax record information of similar area homes
Some property tax appeals are informal, where our office can facilitate an agreement with an in-person meeting or even a telephone call. Others, however, require a formal appeal hearing.
Our office can make sure that the proper paperwork is filed with the Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board in a timely manner. We will attend your hearing and present the evidence proving a tax bill reduction is due.
Sometimes these matters even go beyond the decision of the Appeals Board to the Maryland Tax Court. If you decide that you wish to pursue your tax assessment reduction, our experienced real estate attorneys can continue to advise and represent your interests.
Help with Complex Property Tax Appeals in Maryland
Real estate complications often don’t end after you close the sale. An unfair property tax assessment can put stress on your monthly budget or threaten your business. For more information about our property tax appeals services, please contact the Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans, III to schedule a consultation.