The Patriotic Choice to Grieve My Taxes

This country was founded by a populace that hated high taxes. They were so committed to this desire that they fought a war to rid themselves of this onerous financial burden.  Now over 200 years later we have slid back into this unfortunate state of punitively high taxation. No where is this more true than on Long Island NY where our property taxes are amongst the highest in the country. It is quite common for homeowners to pay over $10,000.00 a year in property tax here.

Now to many of you living in the over 45 states in this country where property taxes are under 3 grand a year this probably seems like madness. You are absolutely correct. My taxes are about $7000.00 a year and many of my friends and family consider that low. Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 10.46.59 AMThese “low” taxes were one of the main reasons why the Bride and were able to afford our home when we bought it last year. Had our taxes been the “normal” 10k, it would have raised our mortgage by about 200 dollars and put our beloved home out of reach.

This dire situation only gets worse when you consider that taxes almost always go up. If my taxes rise by 3% a year for the next 5 years I will be burdened with a nearly $9,000.00 bill and that means my monthly mortgage payment will rise every single year. Will my salary raises rise by that amount? I hope so, but if another recession comes it would seem doubtful. What can I do? Aren’t higher taxes inevitable?

Not necessary, the area in which I live does offer me the option of grieving my taxes. As a homeowner if I believe that my taxes are too high when compared to those of my neighbors, or if I can demonstrate that the value of my home has declined since my last assessment I can request a reduction. All I have to do is fill out a complex set of forms and possibly got to small claims court to make my case.

My other option is to hire a company to grieve my taxes for me. I selecting ZapMyTax.com, based on the recommendation of a friend and their mostly positive online reviews. While there is a cost, this grievance service provide me with two positives, one I know the filing and paperwork will be done correctly and two if it does go to court I will have a competent and experienced person speaking on my behalf.

All areas are different and grievance regulations can differ from county to county or even town to town. In my situation here are the important facts about the grievance process:

  • ZapMyTax only charges a fee if they succeed in lowering my taxes, that fee if half the amount of the reduction plus a $75 fee. That means I split the first year and the the amount saved ever year going forward is mine. I like that.
  • Grieving your taxes can never cause them to go up, nor should you have to fear any fear of retribution from your local assessor. This is very important to keep in mind.
  • You can grieve your taxes every single year if you like. I plan to do so.

Please keep in mind that the lower the taxes are on your home the more valuable it will be to a buyer. If you had to choose between two similar homes, one had a $11,000 tax bill and the other had a $6,000 a year tax bill which one would you pick? Even if the house with the lower taxes was $20,000 dollar more you would still be tempted to pick it because the tax savings would make up that difference in 5 years and your mortgage payment would be lower on that house.

So if you can, it might be a good idea to grieve your taxes. It just might shrink your mortgage bill and raise the value of your house. The only thing your have to lose lose are those high tax bills.

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