How to Dispute Your Property Tax Assessment in the Washington Area

The latest round of property tax reassessments just hit Maryland last month, with those for the District and Virginia homeowners soon to follow.

Nobody likes to pay property taxes, especially more than they have to. Ensuring your tax bill is accurate can save you money in the long run. If you find discrepancies, it’s crucial to understand how the appeals process works.

In Maryland, tax assessments are prepared for one-third of the state’s property owners every three years. This work is conducted during the summer months and mailed to owners by the end of each calendar year. Property owners can potentially be assessed for taxes on properties based on the condition they were in as many as several years prior. So many changes, good or bad, might not be reflected in the current assessment.

The owner has about 45 days to file an appeal of the reassessment notice at the supervisor level. After review, the owner has the option to take the appeal to the second level, the Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board (PTAAB). If they are unsatisfied with the decision, a third level — tax court — is available after the appeal process ends.

Moreover, Maryland owners may file an “out of cycle” appeal during the second or third year between assessments on their property. For property sales that go to settlement before June 30 of a given year, the new owner has a 60-day window to file an appeal for the tax bill they will receive in July.

In the District and Virginia, real estate tax assessments are conducted on an annual basis. The appeal process also consists of three levels: the initial appeal; then the Board of Equalization; then tax court.

The appeal proceedings in Maryland, the District and Virginia are similar. However, the District’s and Virginia’s processes tend to be more accurate because of the annual review process.

Here are some tips to help you as you consider whether an appeal is warranted:

  • Review your assessment notices and work sheets carefully. Errors are common in assessments, whether through unknown changes in property condition, significant market changes or understaffing at local offices.
  • Consult a tax appeal representative to review your case, determine if an appeal holds merit and help navigate the system used to generate assessments. A tax appeal representative is an essential asset, as they have access to a number of key resources, including: comparative sales data, actual rental rates per square foot and vacancy rates for residential and commercial properties.

Whatever you do, don’t pay more than your fair share of real estate taxes.

About Coakley Realty

Founded in 1989, Coakley Realty is a premier full service residential and commercial real estate company in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area specializing in residential and commercial real estate sales and leasing, property management, tax appeals, appraisals, and litigation support. Coakley Realty’s staff of experienced and knowledgeable real estate consultants offers home buyers, home sellers and business owners the best in real estate services and higher levels of expertise in analysis and negotiating skills. For more information, please visit www.coakleyrealty.com or follow us on Twitter @coakleyrealty or www.twitter.com/coakleyrealty and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coakleyrealty.

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