Death, Taxes, and The Value of Ten Minutes
By: Thomas N. Benford
As the old saying goes, two things in life are certain, death and taxes. With the income tax filing date having recently come and gone, taxes are undoubtedly on the collective mind of our community. While paying taxes is an inevitable part of living in this great country of ours, the amount and timing of those tax payments is by no means certain. There are certain steps you can take to help you pay a little less, pay a little later, and keep more of your hard-earned money. One of these steps is properly protesting your property taxes when the opportunity presents itself.
If you’re a homeowner, you probably know that every year you have to pay your property taxes. That’s a simple fact that all homeowners are likely well aware of. A fact that you might not be so aware of is that every year you can (and should) evaluate the property tax assessment you receive and protest if the data supports a lower value. By not evaluating a property tax protest annually, you are almost certain to overpay in property taxes over the long run. In short, protesting property taxes is one of the most efficient and historically successful ways to minimize what you pay the government and keep it right in your pocket.
The way it works is that, by law, the county appraisal district is required to appraise the value of each home individually. Unfortunately, they don’t have the resources or manpower to pull this off. Instead, they use less than ideal techniques to appraise groups of homes at the same time within your community. These techniques miscalculate the values of many homes, and may leave you with much higher property taxes than you should actually have to pay. The appraisal district is well aware of the flaws in using this technique, which is why they have given every homeowner a way to fix it. Their answer; protest your property taxes!
There’s no way that this applies to you though, right? Wrong. The numbers are actually heavily in your favor.
First, historically over 70% of property tax protests have been successful. So if you and three of your friends protest the county’s appraisal, three of you are likely to save money. Additionally, the average amount that someone saves when protesting his or her property taxes is about 8% or about $330 for the average homeowner. Finally, the protesting process can be done in less than 10 minutes. That’s right, by taking ten minutes out of your day; you could save a few hundred dollars.
Or put it this way, by protesting your property taxes, you could be making almost $2,000/hour wage. Sounds pretty good, right? Right.
The way I see it; if death and taxes are really the only certain things in life, I’ll try my luck with taxes. And by properly evaluating and protesting my property taxes, I’ll have a bit more money to enjoy life while I have it.
Thomas N. Benford, iProtest.org
Thomas Benford is President at iProtest, an entrepreneurial venture founded to help homeowners manage the ongoing costs of homeownership through simple, web-based tools. Prior to founding iProtest, Benford was the Marketing and Development Manager at Baroid, a unit of Halliburton. Benford received a BA in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Rice University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.