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Property Tax Appeals | King County | Pierce County | Snohomish County | Property Assessor | Challenge of Property Value November 22, 2012

Posted by Insight Law Firm in Income Tax, IRS, Tax.
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Tips for Appealing Your Property Valuation before the Board of Equalization

Most property owners are accustomed to receiving an annual notice from the county informing them of their property’s “value” and corresponding property taxes due for the following year. What happens when you don’t like what you receive? Below are our top tips on some of the next steps to take when you don’t agree with the numbers in your notice.

1. Make sure you actually disagree with the valuation of your property.

Property taxes in Washington are a function of your property’s value and your local property tax rate. Since this local rate can change year to year, you may find your property taxes have increased while the value of your property has remained the same or decreased. Before rushing to file an appeal of your new property tax bill, make sure it’s the value of your property you disagree with.

2. File a petition, and file it on time.

If you are certain you disagree about the valuation of your property, your next step is to file a written petition to challenge the valuation. Generally, your petition is due to your local county’s board of equalization within sixty (60) days of the date on your change of value notice. You can supplement your petition with additional evidence later, so don’t delay submitting your petition in order to gather up more material upfront. If you miss this filing deadline, you’re probably also going to miss out on your ability to challenge the valuation entirely. In short, don’t miss this deadline! If you’re sending it by mail, send it certified and maintain your proof of mailing.

3. Don’t be afraid to contact the assessor’s office and attempt a resolution before hearing.

After you file a petition, a hearing before the county board of equalization will be scheduled to address your valuation. At the hearing, the board will consider evidence from you and the assessor’s office to reach its determination. Your hearing will most likely be scheduled several months after you filed your petition. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact your local assessor’s office.
You might learn the assessor’s office simply has incorrect information about your property, and correcting their records may resolve your dispute. Request the records they utilized to value your property, and review the records carefully to understand how they arrived at their valuation. Let the assessor know why you disagree, offer to provide the evidence that supports your arguments, and see if you are able to agree on a new valuation. Even if you don’t reach a resolution with the assessor’s office, communicating with the office before your hearing will help you understand what arguments the assessor’s office plans to present to the board at your hearing.

4. Supplement your petition with extra evidence before your hearing.

The assessor’s office has one big advantage at these hearings: their valuation is presumed to be correct. That means it’s up to you to establish why the assessor’s office is not correct and that your property is actually worth less than the assessor claims. You’ll need evidence to back up your claims. To ensure your evidence is considered by the board, submit copies to the board and the assessor’s office at least two weeks before your hearing.

5. Don’t miss your hearing date.

You’ve made it this far – why give up now? If you can’t make your hearing date, contact the board as soon as possible to make alternate arrangements.

6. Pay your disputed taxes until you win, and follow up for a refund.

You may discover your hearing does not take place until your property taxes are already due. No matter how confident you are about your chances of success, it’s wise to pay your taxes in full. You can face interest and penalties for failing to pay your taxes on time, even if you have a petition pending before the board. If you do win your case after paying your taxes, follow up with your county’s treasurer’s office to see when you can expect your refund check.
Insight Law handles residential and commercial property tax appeals in Snohomish County, King County, and Pierce County. For a free consultation, call (206) 397-4780 or visit the Tax Attorney links below to visit our firm website.

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Author: Amanda R. Stach

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