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Homeowners Could Save Thousands By Appealing Property Tax Bill

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Property Values

(Source: AP)

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Neighbors 4 Neighbors

MIAMI (CBS4) – When Gil Oren chose to appeal his property tax bill last year he had little faith.

“I was skeptical about the process.  I didn’t think that we would get anything out of it to be honest.” said Oren.

A year later he’s looking at refund of about $2,000.  Oren hired Barry Sharpe’s company PTAG Florida to argue in front of the county value adjustment board.  Sharpe went to work explaining the home was not worth as much as the property appraiser said.

“It’s like having a wife.” Sharpe explained.  “My wife when she goes out she gets dressed up very nice and she sees all of her friends and they think she looks really great.  But they don’t see her inside the house where her knees squeak and she can’t walk.  That’s basically tax appeal all about.”

By showing the flaws inside of the house, not his wife, the county agreed with Sharpe to reduce the value of Oren’s house by $100,000.  It dropped his taxes dramatically.  But the greater savings will come on future tax bills.  Because of the Save Our Homes law Oren’s house can only appreciate 3% for property assessment.  And now that number is $100,000 less forever.  That’s $2,000 less in taxes Oren will have to pay forever.

“Most people don’t do it.  They don’t even know about it.  Nationally only about 5 percent of the people do the appeals,”   Sharpe said.

It’s odd that most ignore the appeal because the chances of you winning are good. More than half of appeals end with homeowners paying less.  Since 2011 homeowners have actually been making money off their tax bill.  A change in the law forces counties to pay 12% interest on your refund.

“12 percent is a pretty good rate of return.  Especially in this economy,” he said.

The process isn’t fast.  Miami-Dade and Broward both have heard roughly 20 to 25 percent of last year’s cases.  Volume and extensions have lead to a backup.  Still if you win you’ll get a check with interest.  “There is really nothing to lose except for $15 to file.” Oren said.

Sharpe says that if you own a commercial property that you could actually do even better if you do an appeal.  Florida residents have until next Tuesday to do this.  It’s just $15 when filing with the county. Companies like PTAG Florida offer to file on behalf of homeowners for a percentage of what they win.

For more information of filing:

In Miami Dade: http://www2.miami-dadeclerk.com/vab/

In Broward: http://www.bcpa.net/value.asp

PTAG Florida: http://www.ptagflorida.com/

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