How The Tax Appeal Process Works

How The Tax Appeal Process Works

The process for a real estate tax reduction has a few steps.  The owner of the real estate property signs up with Sokol Group, signing the authorization form and sending it to our office.  The authorization can be found on our website:  If the customer wants to check if he is over assessed, there is a section in the website entitled: ‘Click here to find out if you are entitled to a tax reduction’.

The authorization form is all that you need to start the process with Sokol Group.  There is no charge to you until we win the case and reduce your taxes.  Should there be no successful outcome, meaning we didn’t reduce your property taxes, then you pay nothing for all our work.  We pay the filing fee and the cost of the appraisal and again no fee unless we win. Sokol Group charges 60 percent of the first year’s tax savings.

When Sokol Group receives the signed authorization, we analyze if the property can get a reduction in taxes.  If the answer is no, we tell the property owner, we cannot reduce their taxes.  When we see your property is over assessed and we can save you money, we do an appraisal and start the process filing a complaint with the assessor’s office.  The assessor’s office gives once a year a few week period to grieve property taxes.  The last day of that period is called grievance day. Sokol Group does all the work in advanced in order to insure that your grievance is filed before the grievance deadline.

The grievance day appeal is presented to the Board of Assessment Review (BAR).  This is a group of homeowners in your town who decide if the tax reduction is warranted.  About 6 weeks later the BAR publishes their decision.  They determine if your property will get an assessment reduction at this point.  The majority of cases are not reduced.

If the reduction is not satisfactory to our staff analysts, we file a Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR).  This is a law suit that is filed in the Supreme Court in the county seat.  The next stage is the assessor contacts us and makes an offer based on what he thinks the property value should be.  We review our appraisal and then determine if the assessor’s offer is reasonable.  If we accept their offer, we write a Stipulation of Settlement and both Sokol and the assessor sign the settlement.  The settlement is filed in the county court house.

When we are not happy with the assessor’s offer, we go to trial and the judge decides what the property is worth.  Once the judge makes the decision we send a copy of that decision plus our bill to you.  Since these court cases can take up to 18 months, many times you are then entitled to a refund and we inform you how and where to get the refund from the town, school or county.

When we are successful, your assessment will stay reduced unless one of two things happens:
1. You do major improvements on your house.
2. There is a town-wide reassessment of all properties in that town.
Once your assessment is reduced, you can expect that reduction to last for many years to come.

Written by Chana T. Sokol

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