Rising property taxes are hitting residents across the country. Skyrocketing home prices are to blame, and in some neighborhoods, taxes have jumped over 70%. Legislators in some states, such as New Jersey, argue that the new tax law caps on deductions, capped at $10,000, are going to be a burden for taxpayers.
Seniors are especially burdened by fewer deductions because these seniors are often on a restricted income and cannot afford to pay higher taxes.
There are ways for seniors in many states to be able to slash their property tax bills.
Homestead Exemptions for Senior Citizens
Senior citizens in Illinois have been able to reduce their home’s taxable value by up to $8,000 under the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption. Savings for those in Cook County can be $250 - $2,000 per year thanks to the exemption.
These exemptions will need to be applied for at the county’s assessor’s office.
Annual savings average $300 per year and can be as high as $750 when combined with the Homeowner Exemption. The Homeowner Exemption will renew annually for homes not sold to new owners.
What these exemptions allow is for seniors to have peace of mind in knowing that the rising property taxes in the area will have less of an impact on their fixed income. It's important that all seniors research their local, state and county laws to be able to determine which exemptions they may be eligible to receive.
Hire an Independent Appraiser to Verify the Home’s Value
Appraisers can and do make mistakes, and these mistakes can cost homeowners thousands of dollars per year. The appraiser may have made an error when determining the value of your home. A good way to determine if the value is over-inflated is to search for the sale prices of similar homes in your area.
Comparing your property to others in the area, you’ll be able to determine if your home’s value is assessed at a rate that’s much higher than everyone else.
If this is the case, you may be able to ask for your home’s value to be reassessed by the county. Hiring an independent appraiser can also be helpful, although it will cost a few hundred dollars. The private appraiser will often do a more thorough assessment of your home’s value.
If your home was overvalued, you’ll be able to save money on your property tax bills.
Property taxes that go up can be appealed, but you’ll need to be able to appeal the property taxes within a specified time period. Every municipality is different, so some may have a limit on appeals, allowing only one appeal per year. Others may allow an appeal at any time of the year, so it’s important to always view property tax changes and appeal the changes as quickly as possible.
It's a hassle for homeowners to hire an appraiser or appeal an increase, and it is a timely process that may or may not go in the favor of the homeowner. But in most cases, an appeal cannot result in the property value rising – only lowering.