Government Bytes


Overtaxed Property Owners go Largely Unnoticed

by Kristine Tuinstra / /


It appears that local governments are using the collapse of the housing bubble to their advantage.  Up to 60 percent of the nation’s taxable property may be over-assessed, leaving property owners to pay thousands of dollars more than they need to.  According to this article, home prices have falling by 30 percent on average since 2007.  Yet, many counties only reassess every three to five years.  They have little incentive to reassess property more frequently because property taxes are important to funding local government operations. 


Homeowners are increasingly appealing the valuations, although the total number of appeals is still quite small.  The results are mixed.  Many local taxpayer groups and non-profit organizations are providing resources and hosting workshops to help homeowners with the process. 


Unfortunately, we’re left with a Catch 22.  Winning an appeal doesn’t always save you money.  Since property taxes account for nearly 45 percent of general revenue collected by local governments, municipalities make up the difference by raising taxes somewhere else- usually in the form of higher sales taxes. 


It looks like taxpayers are caught in a never-ending cycle of shifting the tax burden around from group to group.