10 Most Common Real Estate Tax Filing Mistakes
Here are the 10 most common mistakes I see Ohio property owners make as they contest the county’s valuation of their real estate at the Board of Revision or Board of Tax Appeals levels.
Not Filing a Complaint After a Sale. This gut wrenching scenario happens all the time: A client calls and asks me if she has a case. I review the public records and I find she purchased the property three years ago. And she purchased the property for half the county’s value. Only problem, she did not file an appeal. Ohio law says—generally—that a sale has to occur within 24 months of the tax lien date. There are other issues too—among them: (A) sheriff sales are not considered “good” sales (i.e, there are not considered to be a reliable indicator of the actual fair market value of the property purchased), (B) there is a rebuttable presumption that property purchased from HUD are not “good” sales, (C) there were substantial changes to the property or the market between the date of acquisition and the tax lien date.
Not Filing a Complaint on Time. Complaints have to be received (or have the appropriate postmark before the March 31st deadline. Your office’s electronic meter does not cut it. Take two copies to the Board of Revision and bring a time-stamped copy home with you. Some county’s will let you file electronically or by fax/email. Check first.
Not Taking Pictures. Show the condition of a property at the time you took title. If the property is in bad condition, then we want the Board of Revision to see all the warts and flaws.
Not Including a Value. Failing to set out your opinion of fair market value on the complaint form. If the county cannot determine what value you are looking for, then the county cannot make a determination if the local school board should be notified. Without that basic information, you complaint might be dismissed.
Failing to Present Proper Evidence. Boards of Revisions want to see appraisal reports and sale documents. Anymore, it’s difficult to rely on an owner’s opinion of value based on neighborhood comps or a review of the actual income and expenses of an income-producing property. Zillow is not the gospel truth. And, surprisingly, refinancing appraisals are not given much (if any) weight.
Not Having Good Records. Manage your real estate professionally. Keep rent rolls. Keep income and expense statements. Keep your tax records. Retain pictures. This is important information and the better organized you are the smoother the process will go.
Failing to Appeal on Time. You have thirty days from the issuance of a Board of Revision decision to appeal. If you are mailing the appeal, you better do it via certified U.S. Mail. If you are cutting it that close, file electronically on the Board of Tax Appeals website.
Failing to Serve a Notice of Appeal on the Board of Revision. The BTA routinely dismisses appeal for this reason. Keep proof that you served the board of revision in case this issue comes up later. You do not want it to be your word against the county’s. Ohio law presumes that the county has operated appropriately, and if they do not have a copy of your notice of appeal, you need proof that you followed the statute.
Not Picking the Right Appraiser. Make sure you appraiser is familiar with the tax appeal process, the property type, the market, etc. At the BTA, you will live and die by your appraiser—make sure you have a good one. It can be costly to be cheap.
Not Hiring an Attorney. It is likely experienced attorney would avoid these mistakes. If you have a question, give me a call. I can be reached at (216) 201-9617.
Steve Nowak © 2018
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. The contents of this article should not be construed as legal advice and should not be relied upon for legal advice in any particular circumstance or fact situation. The article is intended to inform the general public of its legal rights. No formal legal action should be taken in reliance on the information contained in this article and I disclaim any and all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this site to the fullest extent permitted by law. An attorney--especially in Ohio--should be contacted for advice on a case-by-case basis.