Wednesday, March 10, 2010

challenging one's DC property tax assessment



From a 1st Street NW resident:

My property tax assessment went up nearly $84,600 which is a 15% increase from last year. My question -- has anyone successfully appealed their assessment and what documentation/support did you use to argue your case? The 1st of April is fast approaching.

Moderator note: The slanted "O" symbol above is the logo for the DC Office of Tax and Revenue. And now you know that!

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for post Scott. Mine went up by 40% and I'm definitely challenging it. But I'd like to hear from others what to do (as I've never

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  2. How do you challenge it. I am a new resident and first time home owner, so this is all new to me. Any advice would be welcomed.

    Flagler Pl NW resident.

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  3. I successfully challenged mine soon after I moved to the neighborhood in 2003. The instructions come with the letter informing you of your assessment. When you submit your appeal be prepared to provide evidence -- e.g. to demonstrate that their details are wrong (i.e. they have listed the wrong sq footage, the wrong number of bedrooms or other error), or that assessments of similar properties (check the property assessment database) are substantially different, and that actual recent sales have been substantially lower than your assessment.

    You can also call your assessor to ask about the process -- their name is on your assessment notification or also on the assessment database. I found the assessor assigned to my house was very helpful, back in 2003. He did explain that I had to prove it was wrong - not just state that it was unfair.

    I ended up being asked to come in for interview -- I showed them my evidence, MRS listings (sales of comparable property), my appraisal (demonstrating an error in sq footage), my sales documentation for my house (showing price paid), photos of nearby houses with a table outlining their assessed value and how they differed from my house (e.g. some had rear porches or different floors, others did not, some were substantially bigger, others had clearly been renovated). I think the assessor may have visited my home too.

    My assessed value was reduced by about $60k -- however, it was still one of the higher values on our block for one of the smallest houses.

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  4. I was successful in challenging my assessment a few years ago. I had the advantage of a house that continued to have some serious aesthetic problems. I met with the assessor and provided photos of these issues and the sale/offer data for comparison properties in the area (my old real estate agent provided me with some comparators).

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  5. Hey folks, I am the one that asked Scott to open the discussion back up...I guess my question in addition to the points discussed above is whether or not I should get an appraisal done? Obviously, I can submit the appraisal as support for my case. What about all the foreclosures in the neighborhood...? How can I use the foreclosures in my favor b/c I am not exactly certain how foreclosed property is valued given it is the bank or owner of the loan that now owns the house...? Does anyone have an example of the letter they sent with their appeal? With the pertinent information removed, I would really like to see how you pitched it?

    Thanks.

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  6. Two challenges, won them both. I looked at the assessment of every house on my block, looking at their current assessment and percentage increase or decrease for the current and past years. I was able to show that my increase was far out of line with other homes. Additionally, I was able to compare with photographs the features and condition of my home to nearby homes (I pull photos of neighboring homes when they are for sale). In one case, I met with someone at the tax office. The second time, I just sent a detailed letter. It helped, of course, that my home was being treated differently.

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  7. Two weeks ago, I successfully appealed my 2010 tax assessment as a new owner in the Bloomingdale neighborhood. My purchase price in December, 2009, and the 2010 assessment were $150,000 apart, in favor of the city. What reduced my tax basis was the proof I had showing the interior of the house as being in far worse shape than the tax assessor had evidence of. Bring photos of the inside of the refrigerator, for example, because the city may have just a photo from a realtor's website showing the appliances to be "stainless steel." Remember, when the tax assessor comes to call and you are not home to grant an inside look-see, s/he will use the previous residence as comparable. I am not against paying my property taxes. Our city needs the money for projects that benefit us all. I just want to pay my fair share. l left my hearing believing that we as residents and our elected city officials are on the same page. Very good feeling.

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  8. This is all great information and I am very thankful for those taking the time to share their experiences. As a new resident and home owner, this is all unfamiliar territory for me. The house I bought has good bones, but needs a lot of drastic work inside, non-structural luckily, but mind you a lot of tedious cosmetic work. I am going to look into what I can do to ensure I am paying my appropriate share of taxes.

    What I think I appreciate more about this thread is seeing people share information and helping one another, as opposed to the discouraging posts about saving parking spaces we experienced earlier this year.

    Thanks again to all...I may be back with more questions once I investigate some more.

    Flagler Pl NW resident.

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  9. I am considering submitting an appeal on my recently assessed Property Taxes. I am a recent first time home owner, so I am new to the "fun" world of taxes regarding property. I feel that my assessment was quite high. I compared my assessment to every house on the block and I am probably the most heavily taxed on the block (I have the Homestead Deduction, as does 90% of the houses on the block). I bought a 1909 rowhouse that needs quite a bit of work. It is liveable, but needs quite a lot of finesse to make it shine. Of the 24 or so houses on my block, I would say 60% have been renovated nicely (i.e. gutted, updated, etc...), 30% need some work, and the final 10% need substantial work. My property falls in the 30% pool of needing some work. I was shocked to see that the majority of the renovated homes have substantially lower taxes then my house. I called into the DC Real Property Assessment Division and spoke with my designated assessor and he mentioned that my tax assessment was more or less based on other home sales and most importantly my actual purchase price of the house. "Even if that house needs work and isn't as nice as your neighbors, you paid that much for it, you are going to get taxed about that much for it."

    My immediate thought is I paid $x.xx amount of dollars because that house was worth that much to ME. But how much is it worth to the city? If I felt like paying $1,000,000 for the home, should I get taxed for that amount?

    With my house needing quite a bit of work compared to the other "nicer" houses on the block, should I be taxed that much more than them? Avg is a solid $80,000 assessed value more...

    Should I submit an appeal?

    -Confused Tax Payer

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