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Business Property Owners: You may not have to accept what the tax assessor says you owe

When you receive your commercial property tax assessment, do you simply grumble for a bit and then pay it? It might surprise you to know that as many as 60% of properties nationwide receive too high an assessment, according to the National Taxpayers Union. And only a small percentage of people appeal tax assessments, sometimes as low as 2%.

If you were to appeal yours, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you owe a lesser amount. By this point, you may be asking how you get on board with this deal.

Here are some things you can do

You may be thinking that tax assessors count on property owners and building managers not to bother questioning their assessments, and you could be right -- only they really know the answer to that. In any case, it doesn't hurt to at least try to get your commercial property taxes lowered. If you think your warehouse, office building, apartment building or other commercial property was over-assessed, you could explore the following in order to find out:

  • Did a natural disaster, or some other calamity, cause serious damage to your building, and it remains in disrepair? Your property may not be worth what the tax assessor claims.
  • Does the description of your property reflect the reality? Do you really have the number of units, the amenities and other characteristics described in the assessment?
  • Do you have a recent appraisal because you bought your building recently? The amount is probably more accurate.
  • Do you qualify for any exemptions that the assessor failed to apply to your property?
  • Do you believe you couldn't sell the building for the amount the assessor says it's worth on the market?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you might consider doing some additional research to determine whether the amount of property tax the assessor says you owe is too high. Even if you aren't sure, you could appeal anyway. You might get lucky. Considering the number of business properties the National Taxpayers Union says are overvalued, the odds are likely on your side.

The big question is how to go about it. If you have spent any time dealing with a government agency at any level, then you already know it often involves a great deal of stress, complexity and frustration. Instead of appealing the assessment on your own, you could enlist some support. A skilled attorney with experience in this arena could prove invaluable in pursuing a business property tax appeal.

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