All over the USA, property tax appeals are increasing dramatically. Why and what does it mean?
With the real estate bubble having burst and no end in sight, local and county governments along with school districts are facing a slow steady decline in assessment values not through the normal process of re-evaluation, but by an army of do-it-yourself and private firms that appeal real estate assessments.
Ironically, local governments dig in their heels at the thought of a revaluation, citing expense and retribution from voters. But in hard times, homeowners are doing what businesses have been doing for years: getting the expertise by paying for it or learning how to do it and then filing for lowered assessment and therefore lower tax bill.
Governments has always known that some taxpayers appeal their assessments, yet the economy and the deflating real estate sector are ramping up those numbers. The New York Times Metro section has a fascinating article on the wave of reassessments in Westchester County, including an interview with Westchester resident Dale Young who was so upset by her reassessment and her perception of a condescending attitude that Ms. Young went into the business herself; now handling 200 appeals a year.
Although making a handsome income from assessment appeals, Ms. Young realizes as do most public policy experts that there is only one way out: Ms. Young said more frequent revaluations offered the only lasting fix. “The easiest way to put people like me out of business is to be equitable,” she said.