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Dear PoP – How Do Tax Assessments Work?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Faucetini

“Dear PoP,

I thought I’d float this by you to see if any of your readers had thoughts on this: I was reviewing my tax assessment for 2011 and comparing it to that of my neighbors across the street who have the exact same floor plan as me. I have 500 more square feet of land than they do, but they operate the 1st and 2nd floor of their house as a boarding house and the basement as a day care center so I would expect taxes to be adjusted for each situation.

Normally, I have always paid about $20.00 per square foot more then them, but according to my 2011 assessment I will pay a whopping $57.00 per square foot more then them. My tax bill went from $515,720.00 to $448,220.00, and theirs went from $400,610.00 to $242,679.00 though neither house has had any improvements or changes.

Does anyone understand how tax assessments are determined in this city? Are there lawyers that can help me get a more fair assessment?”

I think that there is a cap on how much property tax can be raised. So if your neighbor has lived in their home for 30 years and you’ve lived in yours for 3 then the neighbors assessment will be a lot lower. If your neighbor bought her house for $30,000 in 1974 and the tax can only go up no more than 10% a year or something like that then hers will be lower. Does that make sense? This case sounds a bit more confusing so I’m not sure my explanation applies. Anyone else have any guesses/explanations?

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