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3 steps to lower property taxes

By Kemberley Washington · Bankrate.com
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

After years of sinking home values, prices now are rising. But as values move higher, so do property tax assessments.

Here are three steps some homeowners can take to keep their property taxes in order.

1. Review your tax assessment

Take action if you don't like the judgment of the tax assessor's office. You can inspect your property tax assessment and refute the assessment if you disagree with it.

Depending on the rules of your local assessor's office, you may be able to dispute the assessment by mail or Internet, or in person. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, there is usually an option to appeal the decision.

2. Apply for the homestead exemption

You can also reduce your property taxes by applying for a homestead exemption if it is available to you. A homestead exemption allows homeowners who live in properties in some communities to obtain an exemption from property taxes up to a certain threshold.

For example, if your tax assessor's office allows for a homestead exemption of up to $75,000, you will not have to pay taxes on the first $75,000 of your home's value. However, if your home is valued at more than $75,000, you will be required to pay property tax over and beyond the threshold amount.

Check with your local assessor's office to see if you are eligible for a homestead exemption this year.

3. Freeze your assessment

Many jurisdictions allow for a "special freeze" for those who are members of the armed forces or who are senior citizens. A special freeze will keep the property assessment at a certain amount as long as the homeowner remains in the property.

For example, if your property is assessed at $100,000 and a special freeze is granted, you will not have to worry about an increase in property taxes if the value of the home increases.

Review your jurisdiction's policy concerning special savings that may apply to your situation.

Kemberley Washington is a CPA and a business professor. Visit her blog at Kemberley.com. Follow her on Facebook or connect with her Twitter.

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