Happy New Year! This time for new beginnings and resolutions is also the time of year that the county government sends out property tax bills. Even though many people don’t directly pay their taxes because they escrow them with their monthly mortgage payment, if you own a home, you pay property taxes. How they are determined can seem like somewhat of a mystery, but there are two main factors.
The first factor is the tax rate. The rate is determined by what causes and issues we as tax payers decide in November (or at any other election day) are worthy of our money. When you vote for a tax levy for your school district, fire station, library, or zoo you are saying that you are willing to pay your money for those things. It’s your money whether you own or rent, because if you rent, your landlord is likely to pass the increase in taxes along to you through an increase in rent. No one gets a free pass. There is almost nothing besides exercising your right to vote and becoming involved in local elections that you can do to affect this part of your property taxes. So, get involved!
The second factor is your property’s valuation. The valuation is what the county says your property is worth. In Delaware, Union, Franklin, and the other counties in Ohio, the valuation is updated every three years by law. Sometimes these values may be way off from the true value of the property, and if it is high, that may cause your tax bill to increase.
So what can you do about it? Each county provides a process and a period of time in which you can formally challenge and, if you are successful, change the valuation of your property. In Delaware, Union and Franklin counties, the process involves filing a complaint to state what you think the value should be and present information (such as an appraisal or comparable sales data) that supports your claim. Complaints can only be filed from January 1 through March 31, so time is of the essence. Once you file your complaint, you may be asked to attend a hearing where you’ll present the data before the Board of Revision that typically consists or a representative from the Auditor’s Office, the Treasurer’s Office, and the County Commissioners and they will make a decision as to what the value should be. If you follow the process and have good information, you can be successful in getting the valuation changed and therefore your taxes reduced.
There are subtle differences in process in each county so I’ll refer you to each of the county websites for more information: