I have served on our local Board of Property Tax Appeals for 3 years now.
You see a lot of interesting things there. People react very differently to any, if only perceived, body of authority. Some are subdued, some are aggressive, some are factual and polite.
What unites most of them is that they a) are not aware that we are volunteers, a group of peers, not a paid government entity and b) they have no real clue how taxes are assessed.
I wrote a blog post before this one explaining that taxes in OR are based on Assessed Market Value which is below Real Market Value and therefore grieving Real Market Value is not always successful in the goal of lowering taxes BUT it is good to stay on top of it in case that ever changes.
This post is about "tax grieving etiquette".
Again, we are volunteers on the Board of Property Tax Appeals (or, lovingly, BOPTA). No pay. Our time. Not only for sitting there and listening to you but also for training, driving, not working.
Yet a lot of people think, they will "stick it" to us. They are aggressive, they threat, they are arrogant when in fact all they would need to do is give us some facts, some hard evidence that their Real Market Value is down and we can do something.
Here is what you should do when you want to grieve your taxes:
1: take your tax bill and pay a visit to your local assessors office. Ask them to please explain to you how your taxes where assessed and what criteria were used to assess your property. There are classes of property and if your home is in a class for granite countertops and high end fixtures and you in fact have laminate and average fixtures, that is a start. The assessor is not your enemy. Our local Assessor's Office is great, they are friendly and helpful.
2: file your complaint on time. There is a deadline. If you run late it is too late and there is nothing you can do unless there is a serious problem like an accident. But don't use us and our time for your tardiness and procrastination, please.
3: Provide evidence. Evidence is not your opinion or your feelings. Evidence is an appraisal (always good) by a licensed and neutral appraiser. And we can actually read appraisals. If your appraiser evaluated your 3 story shop with a high end apartment above it for $15K, please do not try to present that, it is rather insulting to think we would not catch that.... Evidence can also be sold comparables in your surroundings, prepared by a broker but they need to be really spot on and recent. If you have a rather unique property an appraisal is the better way to go.
4:Present your evidence in a factual and decent manner. Respect our time and effort to listen to you as we respect your time and effort to present your case well. We pay property taxes as well.
5: NEVER threaten, hiss, insult, cheat, be aggressive. That all really does not work in your favor, if you have hard evidence that is all you need and if you do not have it all your poor behavior will not change that. We will only "look forward" to see you again next year...
6: Be punctual, speak short and to the point. We have 15min for every case and we do this the whole day. If you are 10min late we have 5 min left for you and the next case is waiting. You cannot complain about being rushed when it is you who caused the delay.
7: Accepted the decision gracefully. Come back next year, maybe better prepared...
And again, remember, we are you, your neighbor, your peer,a member of the community as you are. Treat us the way you want to be treated.