Most home buyers are concerned about how high their property taxes will be. You can negotiate the price you're willing to pay for the home you buy but the amount you pay in property taxes isn't negotiable. If the taxes on your home seem unusually high you may be able to challenge them.
In Nevada, you only have a one month window to challenge your property taxes. Each year, the County Assessor will review disputes for one month. The window starts on December 15th and continues through January 15th of the next year. If you miss this window, you will have to pay the assessed amount until next year's window.
Before challenging your taxes, we should take a look at how they're calculated. The Clark County Tax Assessor's website states,
Taxable value of real property is the market value of the land and the current replacement cost of improvements less statutory depreciation."
If you dig further into their website you will find that they rely on the replacement cost. They calculate how much materials and labor would cost to build the same home again. Then they subtract 1.5% for depreciation for each year since the home was new. The land value is calculated using similar sold comps. The total is the assessor's value for your property.
Once you have the assessed value, you will need to find out the tax rate for your specific tax district. There are several tax districts in Clark County. Find your tax district on the bill you receive from the assessor's office. Compare it to the chart on the assessor's website to get the number for your district. Take this number and multiply it times the assessed value to find out how much your annual taxes should be.
Property taxes are assessed each year. Using the replacement cost formula became a problem when the market crashed. Short sales and foreclosures drove values down to the point that you could buy homes for less than their replacement cost. The Clark County Assessor has re-assessed property values to compensate for the drop in market values. If your property is still assessed higher than the current market value, you can challenge your tax assessment.
Assessed Home Values May Not Be Accurate
Start by finding out if the assessor has accurate info on your home. Do they have the correct square footage? Have they added to the size of your home? Do they have the correct number of rooms and bathrooms? Are your property taxes higher than the neighbor who has a home that's similar in size and age? You may find the tax assessor's info on your property has errors.
Next step is determining how much your home is worth. In "How To Challenge High Property Taxes" Bill Gassett warns about using online valuation tools. They will not help you with the County Assessor. You can't just take a print out from x,y,z's home valuation website down to the Tax Assessor. You will need to provide the County Recorder's office with comps of homes that are similar to yours that have sold recently.
Your best resource for this info is to contact your Realtor. They can pull up the comps that have sold near your home. Ask them to give you print outs of the listing info from the MLS and a print out of the tax records on the subject properties. Click here if you'd like us to look at your Las Vegas home's value.
Your other option is to hire an appraiser. You may not need a full blown appraisal where they come out and measure square footage. They may be able to do a "desk top" appraisal that is generally less expensive.
How To Appeal Your Las Vegas Home's Property Taxes
Once you have the current market value for your home, call (702) 455-4997 and request the proper forms to appeal your assessment. They provide these forms starting on December 15th each year. For your appeal to be considered, you have to complete the paperwork and file the appeal before January 15th. If the Jan. 15th date falls on a week-end, the deadline is extended until the next Monday. You can file these forms without using an attorney.
If your appeal is rejected, you can still appeal the County's ruling to the State Board. If that doesn't work, you will have to go to District Court to appeal.
Debbie Drummond is a Full Time Realtor with over ten years experience in the Las Vegas Real Estate Market. She and her team of Real Estate Pros offer the highest level of service. If you’re buying or selling a Las Vegas home, call (702)354-6900 or email Debbie@LVHomePro.com. They’ll be happy to assist you in your move.