How to Appeal Property Taxes

If you believe your current property tax bill is too high, you may be able to appeal that decision to your district tax board to have it reduced.

State and local property tax laws change frequently, and governments and municipalities may change their calculation methods on a yearly basis. While not all local governments calculate property taxes in the same manner, they often follow some general rules.

Property Tax Calculation

Property taxes a can be referred to as an “ad valorem tax” the calculation of which is based on an assessment of your property’s value determined by your local tax assessor’s office. Property assessments may be done as frequently as once a year or as infrequently as once every five years, it all depends on state or local law.

Your property’s assessment is then multiplied by the local tax rate, sometimes called a millage or mill rate. One mill equals one-tenth of one cent or $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s value.

Different governments may charge varying mill rates, but rarely is anyone’s property tax based on just one mill. Municipalities often determine how much tax revenue they will need in a given period, then set a mill rate to raise that revenue through local property taxes.

While property taxes are determined by the local budget process and may not be appealed, the property’s assessment may be. If you are considering appealing your taxes, you must prove that your assessed property value is unreasonable compared to a market value standard.

A property tax appeal is usually warranted if (1) the assessment is more than the fair market value of the property, or (2) the assessment is discriminatory compared to the average assessment for similar property in the same municipality.

By law, your current property assessment is assumed to be correct. Therefore, you must overcome this presumption of correctness to obtain an assessment change.

Tax Appeal Filing Procedure

Generally, there is a fee to file a property tax appeal. However, some jurisdictions waive the fee for veterans, senior citizens, and disabled persons. Typical filing deadlines are one to three months from the date of your property tax assessment notification.

Property tax appeal rules vary depending on jurisdiction, so you need to contact your district tax board for details. Property tax appeal forms and procedures are usually posted on local government websites.

About the Appeals Process

Once you have you have filed a property tax appeal, a formal hearing before the district tax review board will be scheduled.  Most jurisdictions provide an informal review or settlement conference before the scheduled formal hearing.

If you reach a tax settlement with the district appraiser at the informal hearing, it may not be necessary for you to attend your formal hearing.

If you are unable to resolve the relevant issues at the informal hearing, you may hire an agent to represent you, or you may represent yourself at the formal hearing.  Some jurisdictions allow for non-attorney agents to represent taxpayers.

If your property tax appeal with the county tax review board is unsuccessful, you may be able to appeal to your state taxation review board.

Presenting Your Case

At your formal tax review hearing, you or your agent will need to provide evidence that your current tax assessment is inaccurate and should be reduced.

You will likely need a real estate appraiser to conduct an independent appraisal and to serve as an expert witness.  Additional evidence may include recent sale prices for similar property in your municipality, insurance records, or photographs.

The burden of proof lies with the property owner challenging the assessed tax, so it is important to provide documents or sworn statements for any evidence you introduce, in order to make your case as credible and persuasive as possible.

The information on this website is intended as general legal information only and should not form the basis of legal advice of any kind. Individuals seeking specific legal advice should consult a lawyer.


Written by 

New Jersey lawyer turned blogger, podcaster and legal changemaker.