It doesn’t matter if you live in Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, or West Richland. The fact remains that finally owning the home of your dreams is one of the best goals you could ever achieve. However, the reality sets in a year after acquiring your home, as you’re faced with property taxes.
Many homeowners consider property taxes a burden, and for good reason. A recent study conducted by Zillow showed that a property owner in the United States pays an average of close to $2,800 in property taxes. That is approximately 1.4% of the owner’s home value each year. Given that property tax is based on the home’s value, you could expect homeowners to pay a higher amount while others may pay less. In addition, property tax values rise steadily as time goes by. In fact, even after you’ve paid off your mortgage, property taxes continue to be assessed.
Since there’s no way for you to evade property taxes, the least you could do is find ways to lower the burden. Here are some ways to lower property taxes.
Do Your Homework
Doing your homework involves heading down to the town hall or local assessor’s office to request for a copy of your property tax card. If requesting a copy is not possible, at least find a way to view it. Being able to study your tax card is crucial, as it will provide you with various information that the town, Richland for instance, has collected about your property over the years.
Some of the information you’ll find on the property tax card are the size of the lot, the number and type of fixtures found within the home, and the exact proportions of the rooms in the house. The card also shows if the home has special features or if enhancements or improvements have been made on the property over time.
You know your property more than anybody else does. Hence, take note of any discrepancies you see and call the attention of the tax assessor to these. That is so he can make the necessary corrections or conduct a re-evaluation if needed.
Go Easy on Curb Appeal
When a tax assessor goes to your home to conduct the evaluation, he will naturally compare your property to that of your neighbor’s, as well as to other properties in the vicinity. If the assessor sees that your home is more appealing than its neighbors, then he would obviously assess your home a higher value.
So, as much as possible, you should resist the urge to spruce up your property before the tax assessor drops you a visit. All aesthetic enhancements to your house can wait after the evaluation.
Hold Off the Blueprint
You’re probably thinking of adding a deck, a pool, a shed, or any type of permanent fixtures to your home (if it doesn’t have those yet). Here’s a tip: think long and hard about this plan. Think how much adding such fixtures could cost you as far as your property taxes go if ever you would add these prior to construction and after construction.
Assessing with the Assessor
Don’t ever let the assessor wander about by himself. Why is that? Well, there is a big chance he’ll focus only on the good points of your home and overlook the deficiencies. Hence, walk the home with the assessor and open his eyes up to the warped roof that badly needs replacement, the dishwasher that has been with the family for ages, and more. Opening the assessor’s eyes to both the good and bad points of your home will ensure a fair evaluation.
Open Your Home to the Assessor
The last thing you want to do is shut out the assessor. Not allowing the tax assessor to survey your home physically might give him the impression that you’re trying to cover up something like a major improvement or an added fixture. There are towns where assessors assign the highest tax value to properties where they weren’t granted full access, and that’s the last thing you want to happen.
There may be more tips to help reduce your property tax, but the clear-cut solution is never to assume that your tax bill is constant. Do your homework, for only that and due diligence can help lower your property tax burden. You may also want to check the following links for more help in reducing your property taxes:
- You Can Cut Down on Property Taxes
- Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC) Property Taxes
- Information on Benton County Assessor
- How to Fight High Property Taxes