Thought Leadership

Property Tax Appeals

According to the old adage, two things in life are inevitable: death and taxes. While there is little one can do to eliminate the pain and finality of the former, Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC offers you a risk free way to take at least some of the sting out of your property tax bill.

Consider an evaluation of your property tax picture a regular part of your year-end review. Have your property taxes gone up? Has your assessed property value stayed the same or increased? If so, are property values in the neighborhood where your home or building is located the same (or higher) as they were before the market crashed?

If you received the same assessed value in the face of market depreciation -or if your assessed value has increased – odds are you have a case for a property tax reduction with the appropriate city or county official. Depending upon the assessed value of your real estate and improvements, an adjustment of your assessed value could save you thousands of dollars in taxes a year.

How does this work?

Property tax appeals must be filed by April 30 of the year in which they are payable. In other words, the deadline to appeal your 2013 property tax valuation is April 30, 2013. This deadline is firm and cannot be changed by an assessor or court.

The process is simple and starts while a realistic evaluation of your assessed value. Keep in mind that no one – including assessors – knows your property better than you. Consider the condition, age, need for improvements, location and assessed value of comparable properties.

Keep in mind that you have the advantage: a property owner is in a far better position to address these specific considerations than the assessors who fix valuations. In fact, many assessors utilize a “mass valuation” technique and simply hike value across the board by location.

This sounds simple, shouldn’t I do this myself?

Abe Lincoln observed that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. You could certainly file your own tax appeal (many do), but you could also cut your own hair. It is certainly possible you will be wildly successful at both, but it is equally possible you will find yourself wishing you hadn’t made this decision.

Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC has an active case load with the tax assessors in the metro area. As such, we have experience with the arguments assessors make out of habit and those which they make when their back is against the wall. We have good relationships with these professionals and they appreciate that we will not bring a case lacking in substance or merit. In short, our professionalism and track record are consistent and effective. Stated differently, we are comfortable you will like the haircut we give better than the one you give yourself.

Okay, what’s it going to cost me?

This is likely the best news of all. Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC handles property tax appeal work on a contingent basis. This is a sliding scale/contingency based upon the value of the property (size of the tax bill), the initial estimate of how much on the annual tax bill we may be able to save you, and whether your individual appeal is likely to require work substantially above and beyond the process that we follow as we effectively prosecute our docket of appeals cases.

If you would like to learn more about our property tax appeal practice, please contact John Steffenhagen at [email protected].


John J. Steffenhagen
Phone: 952-746-2163