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Overtaxed Homeowners Take a Stand

In the midst of the economic downturn, homeowners are quickly learning that if they don’t speak up when it comes to paying over-the-top property taxes, no one will do it for them. Some, however, are raising their voices loud enough to get others to follow suit.

Because the tax assessments only occur every 3 to 5 years, it is estimated that nearly 60 percent of property owners have been paying higher taxes than necessary since the housing bubble burst. And while those in charge may be aware of this oversight, the need for that money to fund other government operations makes them slow to make changes.

As more and more homeowners are becoming aware of the situation, some are attempting to appeal the charges. The success rate is low so far; only 20 to 40% have seen a positive outcome, but some believe it’s worth the fight. One in particular underwent a 14-month appeal process in order to ensure that his home was valued correctly at $970,000 instead of its erroneous $1.6 million price tag. He was then able to receive a 25% reduction in taxes and a refund of $5,400.

If you’re interested in seeing whether or not your taxes are in line with your home’s value, there are a few ways to find out. Groups like Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation in Georgia and many others throughout the country have seminars and will answer questions on the topic. It is possible to hire a lawyer to work on your behalf, but beware of the cost; some charge 50% of the refund if they win your case.

Don’t be afraid to do your own research and talk to the assessors in your area. While the number of appeals is on the rise, with a bit of patience, you might just get the results you’ve been looking for.

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