Lowering Your NH Property Taxes: Challenging Assessment Value
While nobody likes paying property taxes, there’s no way around it for homeowners. In New Hampshire, there is a process by which you can challenge your property tax assessment to lower your property tax bill, known as the “abatement” process.
The tax abatement application must be submitted to your town/city by March 1st. If you think your house is disproportionately assessed at a value much higher than the assessments of comparable properties in your town, then it is worth going through the process. The first step is to request an abatement form/application from your town Assessor’s office. They can mail it to you or it may be readily available on the town’s website.
Note that assessed value is not the same as market value. The state uses an “equalization rate” to adjust the net assessment as market values increase or decrease overall based on market conditions. The town Assessor or selectman’s office can walk you through those numbers. By law, towns have to reassess at least every five years, but most do it more frequently.
The first thing to do is review the property assessment “tax card,” which has details about the house and other structures, including year built, condition, and square footage. If any of this information is incorrect in a way that benefits the town, you have a solid justification for the abatement. For example, if they list your home as having 2,000 sq. ft. and it only has 1,500 sq. ft., then you should definitely file.
Here are some common justifications upon which you may be entitled to an abatement:
1) The town/city has the physical features of your home listed incorrectly;
2) Market data does not support the assessed value of your home;
3) Your property’s assessment is not reasonably assessed when compared to similar homes.
If submitting in 2018, you are contesting the assessment of April 01, 2017. You should provide “comps” (comparable sales data) to show that your property was disproportionately overvalued. Porcupine Real Estate can help with this data. Alternately, you can hire an appraiser to do a formal appraisal.
The deadline for the municipality to respond with a formal answer is July 1st. There is an appeal process if your application is denied or the abatement/reduction is far too little in your opinion. You can find more details about the entire process here.
Another way to fight for a lower tax burden is to work with like-minded taxpayer advocates in your town to fight the budget process at the town and school levels. That’s where all the spending happens! High taxes are the result of bloated town budgets.
Editor's Note: This article is the sixth installment in our real estate column, where the experts at Porcupine Real Estate share their answers to clients' frequently asked questions. Learn more about making your move in the Porcupine Real Estate's New Hampshire Relocation Guide.