2018 Tax Assessment – Should I Appeal – Part 1 of 4

We had two great clinics this past week with over 60 people in attendance. Dan Puma, the Supervisor of Assessments for Prince George’s County, was there on Thursday evening and gave us so much good information. Our esteemed mayor, Mike Callahan, has gone through the assessment process before and had practical advice to give. Then, on top of that, one of our residents got on the phone with the assessment office and had some more insight to offer.

Here is what I got from above meetings, with a few corrections from Mr. Puma. His corrections/additions are highlighted with red text.

By the way, even though you got the assessment letter now, you won’t know what your tax bill will be until July.

  • Don’t get in the weeds. The assessment is a big-picture valuation, not minute nuts-and-bolts. If your house is generally within the range of similar houses, then you might choose not to appeal.
  • Start with square footage. Find houses that sold in the past 12 months and narrow down from there. If you have a 1350 sq ft house, find other houses in that size range, then narrow down to others that have the same style – brick colonials are not the same as frame ramblers – try to keep to houses that are as similar as possible.
  • Sales that settled closest to the date of finality, in this case January 1, 2018, are also considered better indicators of value.
  • From there, find houses that are substantially the same level of updatedness…in other words, renovated or flipped houses would be comparable to other flipped houses.
  • Note any substantial condition issues – failing roof or foundation.
  • If you have an appraisal from buying or refinancing within the past year and it substantiates your appeal, you should provide it.

The assessment office is not going to recognize small differences:

  • a 2 year old roof vs a 10 year old roof. For instance, a roof that is not failing is a roof and will be given the same weight regardless of age. A 2 year old kitchen is viewed the same as a 10 year old kitchen.
  • same with a finished basement – a basement is considered finished if it has a floor covering, walls and a ceiling. How good it looks is irrelevant. If you have added a bathroom, that may add value.
  • The more recent the sale, the more impact it has.

Other:

  • If you appeal and the assessment office finds that your house is worth MORE than the assessment, they will not increase your assessment in this 3-year period. Any additional information discovered may become part of the assessment record and included in the valuation process for future assessments.
  • You can appeal next year or the year after, but only during the proscribed periods. You will not get any further notices about the assessment until the next 3 year cycle begins. You can appeal next year, or the year after, but only by January 1 of the year you are appealing.
  • If you think your assessment is too high, go ahead and submit an appeal. That way you will get the worksheet on your house so you can verify that the data is correct. If you decide you don’t want to appeal, just cancel it.
  • The Homestead Tax Credit does not affect your assessed value. It affects your payment. You may appeal your assessed value and still not see a marked reduction in payment because of the cap that is in place due to the tax credit.
  • The assessment office is looking at averages for similar homes. They are not comparing your house to specific other houses.
  • The percentage of increase is mostly meaningless. What matters the current market value. You may have been significantly undervalued in a previous assessment. Focus on how your home stacks up to other similar homes overall.
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