How to Appeal and Reduce Your Property Taxes
Are your Ohio property taxes too high? Is your property worth less than the county auditor’s valuation?
In Ohio, you have several options to appeal a county auditor’s valuation of your property to reduce your property tax burden. The real estate tax lawyer at Porter Law Office, LLC has in depth experience with challenging the county’s valuation and helping taxpayers reduce property taxes through the property tax appeals process.
Real Estate Valuation and Assessment of Property Tax
Ohio real property tax is the oldest tax in the state. Since 1825, it has been an “ad valorem tax”—meaning a tax based on the value of the real estate. By statute, the county auditor must appraise and value real property in each county. See Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 5715.
The process of valuing real estate in each county is conducted on a mass scale. As a result, most properties are only visually inspected from the exterior, and interior inspections are rare. There are simply too many properties in each county to conduct a detailed inspection of each one. In fact, in Franklin County, Ohio alone, there are more than 440,000 parcels that all need to be appraised and valued by the Franklin County Auditor.
Sexennial Appraisals and Triennial Update
The Tax Commissioner is charged with the duty of ordering all real property in each county to be appraised once every six years. This is usually referred to as the sexennial appraisal. R.C. 5715.33. The sexennial appraisal process takes approximately two-and-a-half years in Franklin County, Ohio.
In addition to the sexennial appraisal, values are adjusted by the county auditor in the third year between the sexennial appraisals. R.C. 5715.24. This interim adjustment is usually referred to as the triennial update. The triennial update is a statistical analysis of the sales that have occurred in the prior three years. Property values are adjusted upwards or downwards based on a percentage calculated for each marketing neighborhood.
Each county conducts its sexennial appraisal and triennial update at different times. For more information, review the chart found in Year of Sexennial Reappraisal and Triennial Update for Ohio’s 88 Counties for Tax Lien Years 2012 through 2017 to determine when your county’s sexennial appraisal and triennial update will occur.
What is Your Property’s Value?
Can you rely on the county auditor’s value of your property? Due to vast number of properties in each county and limited state resources, the county auditor is simply unable to fully consider the unique circumstances of each individual property.
Property valuation requires precision. Mass scale appraisals are not precise. They create rough calculations of value, and are the equivalent of using a hatchet where a scalpel is needed. In comparison, a standard bank appraisal requires an interior inspection and verification of comparable sales to ensure that your property’s value is as accurate as possible.
It is the responsibility of each property owner to know the true value of their property and to contest the county’s value if it is wrong. You should not simply rely on the county’s valuation of your property or you could be paying more than your fair share of Ohio property tax. If you would like to know the actual value of your property, you should consider engaging a qualified appraiser. Residential appraisals are relatively inexpensive. The appraisal fee could end up saving you thousands in Ohio real estate taxes.
If you believe your property has been wrongly valued by the county auditor, contact the real estate tax lawyer at the Columbus, Ohio-based law firm Porter Law Office, LLC to discuss your options to lower your Ohio property tax bill.
Appealing Property Taxes in Ohio
If you believe that your property tax valuation is not accurate, you can appeal the county auditor’s value by filing a complaint against valuation with the county board of revision.
Update for Properties in Franklin County, Ohio: Franklin County, Ohio conducted its triennial update for tax year 2014. As a result, starting in December 2014, applications were made available in the Franklin County Auditor’s Office or online at www.franklincountyauditor.com to appeal property tax valuations to the Franklin County Board of Revision. All applications are due to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office no later than March 31, 2015.
When appealing the valuation of your property, you must be able to prove your property’s fair market value. You must submit probative evidence of value, or “evidence that tends to prove an issue.” Such evidence includes proof of a recent, arm’s length sale or an independent appraisal conducted by a qualified appraiser.
Analyzing the County’s Valuation of Your Property
As a former real estate appraiser, the property tax attorney at Columbus, Ohio-based Porter Law Office, LLC can help you analyze the county’s valuation of your property and select a qualified appraiser. Generally, appraisers who are designated as “Members of the Appraisal Institute” or “MAIs” are highly qualified and should strongly be considered as your expert witness in a property tax appeal. You can find an appraiser on the Ohio Chapter of the Appraisal Institute’s website.
In determining your property’s value, an independent appraisal will thoroughly analyze one or more of the following approaches to value: (i) the sales comparison approach, (ii) the income approach, and (iii) the cost approach. Your expert appraiser needs to be prepared to defend the opinion of value by explaining each of the approaches to value.
Options for Appealing a County’s Valuation of Your Property
If you believe that the county auditor has over-valued your property, you have the following options to appeal the valuation of your property.
- Informal Value Review: The first option is to participate in the county’s Informal Value Review process. This process takes place in the fall of reappraisal or triennial update years. You will have a hearing with a county appraiser to present documentation regarding the value of your property. You will then receive a decision indicating whether a change of value is warranted.
- Board of Revision: The second option is to file a real-property-valuation complaint with the county board of revision. R.C. 5715.19. The appeal is formally known as a “Complaint against the Valuation of Real Property” and is made on DTE Form 1. This process is available to all taxpayers annually. There are jurisdictional and procedural rules that must be followed by both the property owner taxpayer and the board of revision. Generally, you can only file one complaint in each three year period, unless an exception applies.
- Ohio Board of Tax Appeals: The county board of revision will hear the complaint and determine the value of the property. If you are not satisfied with the value determined by the county board of revision, you may further appeal to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals. R.C. 5717.01.
- Ohio Supreme Court: Finally, unfavorable Board of Tax Appeals decisions may be appealed directly to the Ohio Supreme Court, as a matter of right. R.C. 5717.04.
If the value of your property has recently gone up due to the triennial update, or if you believe you are paying too much property tax, contact Porter Law Office, LLC to discuss challenging the county’s property tax valuation. If your case cannot be resolved informally, you should consider appealing to the county board of revision, the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals or common pleas court, and finally, if necessary, to the Ohio Supreme Court. The experienced Ohio property tax attorney at Porter Law Office, LLC will help you navigate the procedural and substantive requirements of filing a property tax appeal to ensure that you pay only your fair share of Ohio property tax.
Contact an Experienced Real Estate Tax Lawyer
Real Estate Tax Attorney in Franklin County, Ohio
The Columbus, Ohio real estate tax lawyer at Porter Law Office, LLC has significant experience in helping taxpayers reduce their Ohio property tax bill. If you recently received a letter from the county auditor advising you of a new value on your property, Porter Law Office, LLC can assist you throughout the property tax reduction/appeals process. Contact the experienced Columbus, Ohio real estate tax attorney at Porter Law Office, LLC today to discuss your particular Ohio property tax appeal options.