As business people and investors, we expend countless hours all year long and dollars on professional accounting to fill out forms in hopes of reducing our ultimate income tax burden. Nationally, however, less than 3% of those same people expend even one moment or monetary resource to reduce property tax burden which in many cases is of an even greater cost burden to the operation of their businesses and households.
Why is this the case? Our research has shown that most people consider a Property Tax bill as a necessary evil. They assume that the assessment is accurate and even if they believe the resulting tax is too high, that nothing could be done about it. This thinking could not be further from the truth.
What does it take to appeal or dispute a property assessment? State Statutes and Regulation provide guidelines and a process by which all property owners can appeal or dispute the assessment on their property. Over the years in Connecticut, the appeal process has been made more difficult to undertake. The process now requires written argument and supporting documentation to be granted an appeal hearing. This alone is enough to intimidate most appellate (possibly the motive of this legislation). The burden of the appeal is for the property owner to disprove the Assessor in his or her valuation of the property. This is not as simple as pointing out the five most recent foreclosure sales which were far less than the assessed value. In most cases, just bringing in a recent appraisal of the property or bill of sale is not enough either.
A Tax Assessor has two primary charges. The first is to assure that all property values on the Grand List are representative of the Market value for that property at a particular point in time. In Connecticut that time is the most recent Revaluation. Secondly, the Assessor must at least assure that the Property is assessed with equity amongst the other properties. Theoretically speaking this means that all assessments can be wrong as long as all similar properties are assessed similarly.