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Homeowners Finding Success In Appealing High Property Tax Bills

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(Source: AP)

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David Sutta joined the CBS4 news team in April of 2007. As S...
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MIAMI (CBS4) – By now you have probably received your estimated property tax bill and may be a bit sticker shocked.  But just because the bill says you owe a lot of money, doesn’t really mean you do.  Thousands of South Floridians are appealing their property tax bills and saving thousands of dollars.

Tal Mazer is one of those people.

In 2008 he saw the housing market tank so he decided to renovate his house rather than sell.  Things were going smoothly until the property tax bill came.

“Suddenly my tax bill went up 50%,” Mazner told CBS4’s David Sutta.

The sticker shock sent him into a bit of a panic.

“We hadn’t even finished it yet,” said Mazer. “Now we may have to sell the house because we can’t afford the taxes.”

The county calculates your property value by comparing it to recently sold homes in your neighborhood.

“They are comparing your home to your neighbors home not looking at the fact the two homes aren’t equal,” Mazer explained.

So Mazer appealed his bill with the help of Barry Sharpe at Property Tax Appeal Group.

“He gets a percentage of what he saves me,” said Mazer. “So I have nothing to lose.”

Sharpe explained appeals are easy. He makes a case why your property is worth less than what the county says, in turn, lowering your taxes.

“The only thing they have to do is switch hats.  One is an owner.  Switch hats… I’m a buyer.  I don’t like this roof I’m going to have to change it.  I don’t like this paint, I’m going to have to change it.  I don’t like this kitchen; I’m going to have to update it.  That’s all they have to do!”  Sharpe said.

With documented damages and repair estimates in hand he makes his case in front of an appeal board and most of the time comes out victorious.

Even those who go it alone do well. The latest data available from 2009 shows 54 percent of Broward residents won their tax bill appeals. Their home values dropped on average roughly $75,000 saving them $1500 in taxes.  In Miami-Dade county 54 percent won their case too, reducing property value more than one hundred thousand dollars.  On averages homeowners saved $2300 off their tax bill.

Surprisingly not a lot of people appeal their case.

“Less that 5%,” Sharpe said.  In the case of Mazer, Sharpe got the house value dropped $120,000 without spending a penny.

You have until September 19th to file an appeal.  For more information on how to do that visit the following sites.

http://www.miamidade.gov/pa/appealing_assessment_VAB.asp

http://bcvab.broward.org/axiaweb2011/

www.ptagflorida.com

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