About Property Tax Law
Since property taxes are usually assessed on a local level, the laws governing them are usually local as well. Property tax law allows local municipalities to tax properties using ad valorem taxes. Instead of being calculated like other taxes using a fixed amount, they are calculated based on a portion of the property’s taxable value. Due to the way they are calculated, they require more time and effort to ascertain. Appraisers are usually used once a year or once every five years to determine the taxable value of a property.
However, due to these calculations, property owners are quite frequently taken aback by the value of their property. As such, some municipalities allow property owners to appeal their appraisal if they can provide evidence as to why their property was over or undervalued. Suppose you still don’t believe your property is being taxed at the proper rate. In that case, it might be time to contact an experienced property tax lawyer.
What is Property Tax?
Property tax is a tax imposed on real property such as land, homes, or businesses, unlike personal property goods that are taxed with sales tax or gift tax. Property taxes are administered at the local or municipal level instead of the federal level. Local municipalities use these taxes to fund local services such as:
- Roads and infrastructure
- Fire and police departments
- Water treatment facilities
- Garbage removal
- Public libraries
- Other services that local governments provide
It’s also imperative to note that property tax administration is based on ownership and not use. It doesn’t matter if you are actively or currently using the land or building; you will still receive a property tax bill based on its valuation. On the other hand, someone who rents the land or building isn’t required to pay the property taxes since they are only using the property.
Understanding Property Rights
Each state defines and enforces its own property laws that identify the bundle of rights that property owners have. For example, property rights typically give the respective property owner or right holder the capacity to do with the property what they choose, including:
- The right to exclude others
- Selling or renting it out for a profit
- Transferring it to another party
Anyone other than the owner doesn’t have the right to make these types of decisions. Private property rights give owners the legal authority to exclude others from the uses and benefits of their specific property. These rights define the legal and theoretical ownership of the property’s resources and how they can be allocated and used.
Do I Need a Property Tax Lawyer?
Depending on the type and location of your property, the property taxes can be significant. In some cases, you may not agree with the value the local municipality has assessed upon your property, and they may refuse to budge on that amount. Fortunately, you can hire a property tax attorney to help you resolve the matter in the best way possible.
An experienced property tax lawyer will have in-depth knowledge of taxpayers’ rights and potential remedies. If your case is particularly complex, your property tax lawyer can gather a team of consultants and experts for help. By using the right property tax lawyer, you can minimize property taxes and streamline the appraisal, assessment, and protest process.
How to Choose a Property Tax Lawyer
Legal issues are invariably complicated, and disputes related to property taxes require a specialized understanding of local law and procedure. For this reason, it is in your best interest to find an attorney who focuses his or her practice on working with clients with issues related to property taxes. Just like you would not see a pediatrician for your spinal surgery, you likely should not retain a personal injury lawyer to represent you in a property tax dispute.
From the time you call their office for the first time, note how every staff member treats you and how they make you feel. Do you feel special and like they care about your needs? Or do you feel like they are just treating you like another payday?
It’s a good idea to meet with an attorney prior to retaining him or her to represent you. During this time, you can sit down and talk with them about your questions and concerns. Be sure to ask them about previous property tax cases they’ve managed and how big their firm is. Do they have time to work on your case right now? Do they have the resources required to take your case on? Would you communicate with the attorney directly or a member of his or her staff? These are just a few of the questions you should ask before choosing a property tax lawyer to represent you.
Property tax law is confusing and often complex. If you need to delve into such matters, don’t do it alone. Do it with a dedicated property tax attorney on your side.