Another Assessment

According to the U.S Census Bureau, property tax collections are up 35 per cent from 2002 to 2006. Tax cut proposals are being considered in at least 15 states. Here in Florida, Gov. Jeb Bush has created the Property Tax Reform Committee to search for long-term solutions to soaring property tax costs. A series of public hearings are being held around the state. Tampa will host one Nov. 17.

One sure target will be tax assessors’ offices. In fact, the American Homeowners Association estimates that 60 per cent of homes are over-assessed. The reasons can often be a function of understaffing and consequent over-reliance on software or assessors eyeballing properties from the sidewalk or their car.

The October issue of Money magazine provides a handy checklist. Make sure the “basics” – from number of baths to size of the lot — are right, advises Money . Also, be on the lookout for “anything that could knock down the value of your home and your tax burden.” Examples include: “a sloped lot; a crack in your home’s foundation, easement, even a shared driveway or an old roof.”

Even architecture is a factor. The only contemporary home, for example, in a neighborhood of, say, colonials or bungalows, may result in that home’s value being lower than the tax rolls indicate.

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