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Saturday, July 04, 2009

NY Times: 'Tax Bill Appeals'

by Calculated Risk on 7/04/2009 01:39:00 PM

Here are some green shoots ... property tax appeals are growing like weeds!

From Jack Healy at the NY Times: Tax Bill Appeals Take Rising Toll on Governments

Homeowners across the country are challenging their property tax bills in droves as the value of their homes drop, threatening local governments with another big drain on their budgets.

The requests are coming in record numbers, from owners of $10 million estates and one-bedroom bungalows, from residents of the high-tax enclaves surrounding New York City, and from taxpayers in the Rust Belt and states like Arizona, Florida and California, where whole towns have been devastated by the housing bust.

“It’s worthy of a Dickens story,” said Gus Kramer, the assessor in Contra Costa County, Calif., outside San Francisco.
And a few quotes ...
“We’ve been absolutely getting killed,” said Robert W. Singer, the mayor of Lakewood Township, N.J. ...

“We’re hearing from people like this every day,” [Jeff Furst, the appraiser in St. Lucie County, Fla] said. In St. Lucie ... property tax revenue is expected to fall 20 percent, and tax appeals are 10 times as high as they are normally. “Most people are going to see a significant decline in their tax bill.”

Mr. Kramer, the assessor in Contra Costa County, said homeowners started swamping his office with requests for new assessments in December. As many as 500 people would call in one day. His voice mail message now begins: “If you’re calling to request an informal review of your property value due to the declining real estate market.”
The article has several stories from around the country.

New Jersey has really high property taxes - the article provides an example of a house assessed at $1.8 million with a $53,000 per year property tax bill (almost 3 times higher than a house with a similar appraised value in California). When that house in New Jersey sells (currently listed at $1.3 million) or is reappraised, the local tax revenues will take a hit. And that same story is being repeated over and over ...