Thursday, June 4, 2009

Paying Too Much Property Tax This May Be The Reason Why

By Valerie Faltas

In addition to your basic property taxes, when your property tax bill seems unusually high especially during this housing crisis you probably have a Special and/or Direct Assessment on your house. This will vary based on the area your house is located, there may be costs needed pay for voter-approved obligation bonds or other indebtedness, special assessments, or direct levies. Such as, a Direct Assessment could be applied to your property if the voters in your community decide to establish a sewage system in a city where the were using residences use septic tanks. The direct assessment is applied pay for the sweage system to the community.

Generally, a direct assessment is taxed over years so the homeowners are not overwhelmed by the tax to pay for the new improvement. Special and Direct Assessments have a specific reason they are assessed such as a specific improvement to a community and will only last as long as it will take to cover the cost of that improvement. Normally, this type of debt causes a small fraction of a percent increase in the property tax rate.

Direct assessments are placed on your property tax bill by the county tax collector for the local levying agency or district, not on behalf of the assessor, auditor-controller, and/or the county tax collector departments. Keep in mind, that Special and Direct Assessments are voter approved taxes so if there is any issue with it, it did not come from the Assessor. To find out more or to dispute a special assessment on your property, contact the levying district. Normally this information is on your property tax bill.

However, you cannot refuse to pay the property tax bill that contains the direct levy amount, even if the direct levy amount is under review. Always remember that no matter how much you disagree with what is on your property tax bill it is always better to pay the bill and get refunded later than to have a lien against on your house. The processes to remove a delinquent property tax bill and all of the fines associated with that need numerous signatures and explanations within the Assessor's Office and Tax Collector's Office and can be messy. So keep it simple, always pay your bill, any exception to this would be an extreme case.

About the Author: Valerie Faltas, Property Tax Expert has been involved in all facets of real estate for over ten years including assessments, appraisals, estates and trusts, investing and much more. She is a Certified Property Tax Appraiser, Licensed Residential Appraiser and a member of the International Association of Assessment Officers. As a real estate investor and advisor she is well versed in all aspects of real estate. To contact Valerie Faltas go to her website:

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