Property taxes.

Every homeowner has them (unless you’re fortunate enough to own a property that is currently enjoying a tax abatement) and every homeowner begrudges having to pay them. As a general rule, you should always expect your property taxes to increase year-over-year. On one hand, that means the assessed value of your property has increased; but on the other, you’re now on the hook for more money out of your pocket. That is, unless you successfully appeal your newly assessed value and get the value reduced. Let’s take a look at what that appeal might look like.

The Process

In this tri-state area (Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota), each state is going to do things a bit different, but the general appeal process is similar. When you receive your most recent property assessment, the notice will clearly explain with whom you must file your appeal and the time-frame in which you must do it.

The first level of appeal is going to be with a local board of review. You will be granted a hearing before the board with a chance to present your case. The board will then take your appeal under advisement and issue a ruling either changing or upholding the property assessment.   

If your first attempt to appeal is unsuccessful, the next level of appeal will be a bit more formal and involved and may feel a lot like an actual case that is heard by a court of law. You and the assessor will call witnesses, file exhibits, and present your cases once again.

If the second attempt is also unsuccessful, you are typically afforded one more “bite at the apple.” This appeal usually takes place before an actual court of law and requires the formalities of your standard litigation. If this appeal falls through, you will be stuck with your newly assessed property value. 

A Helping Hand

For most, the process outlined above is just too much for the normal homeowner, especially when they have a career of their own. Property assessment appeals are a specialized area of real estate law, and it usually makes sense to hire a professional if you want to have a good chance at success. The appeal process requires a significant amount of time and knowledge. In some cases, the homeowner may attempt the first level of appeal on their own before hiring an attorney. However, it is important to consider that hiring an attorney from the start may prevent the need for additional rounds of appeals.

A seasoned real estate attorney will know the law involved. They will be able to identify potential errors in the assessment process and point to past case examples that favor your side. An attorney will also be able to work with a qualified expert to put together reports and testimony showing that your property’s new assessed value is too high. Your attorney and expert will identify comparable properties that show that your assessed value should be lowered.

Property taxes are an important source of revenue for your local and state government. Property taxes help pay for the roads you drive on, the schools your children attend, and the public parks in your neighborhood. With that in mind, no property owner should have to pay more than their fair share in property taxes. That is why it is essential that each property be assessed at its correct value, so the correct amount of taxes can be collected.

Have your property taxes recently increased in a way that you think is incorrect or unfair? Reach out to Goosmann Law Firm’s offices in Sioux City, Sioux Falls, or Omaha to learn more about how our team can fight for you and save you money. 


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