Marks the New Year !!
- New Year Resolutions are formulated!
- Is a great day to watch football!
- And yes, January 1 is one of the three critical days in the Property Tax Calendar.
What is so critical about January 1 you say….
Let me give you the short list (and believe me, there is more):
- January 1 is the effective date for the valuation of your property for the year. That’s right, values are always as of an effective date, and for property taxes, that date is Jan 1. Why is this critical? You cannot always plan what happens to your house, but here are some actual true stories.
- A taxpayer’s house burned December 31 – Of course this was not a choice but the value and therefore the tax bill was much lower than if it had burned Jan 2
- A taxpayer purchased a house on valuable land. The house was worthless (actually had negative value) but the appraisal district still valued the house at over $100,000. The taxpayer razed the house in mid- January. Had she razed it prior to Jan 1 the value would have been just land with no value for the structure at all. By delaying to mid-January, she paid taxes on over $100,000 of value (yes, she could still protest but that is swimming upstream unnecessarily). Had the house been razed in late December instead of mid-January, it would have been land value – no argument.
- A taxpayer made expensive foundation repairs in very late December. On Jan 1, the foundation had been repaired. It could have been done after January 1 just as easily.
- January 1 is a critical date for Homesteads. You must own and occupy your house on January 1 to be able to claim it as your homestead for that year. Consider:
- A taxpayer was building a very expensive luxury house with a pool. The house was ready in early December but the pool was still under construction and not going to be complete until well into January. The taxpayer’s lender would not fund the loan until the pool was complete. Unaware of the consequences, the taxpayer did not seek other remedies, closed in early January, and was denied the homestead exemption for that year – overpaying taxes by several thousand dollars.
- A taxpayer closed at the end of the year and leased the house back to the sellers for a month. You guessed it! Not a good plan and no homestead exemption for that year.
OK – you get the point – for most of us and for most years, January 1 is a day for resolutions and football, and we don’t need to worry about property taxes. But there are times when what happens before or after Jan 1 to our property can have major property tax consequences.
What are the other two critical dates in the property tax calendar, you ask.
- If taxes are not paid (postmarked at least) by Jan 31, very expensive penalties and interest kick in. You don’t want to pay taxes even a day late.
- Jan 31 is the deadline to file a late protest under section 2525.d for substantial errors (see our previous blog on this topic).
- Jan 31 is the deadline to file late for a homestead exemption for the two previous years. You have a year from the date the taxes are delinquent to file for a late homestead. Taxes for 2017 were delinquent on Jan 31, 2018. A year from Jan 31, 2018 is Jan 31, 2019. So Jan 31, 2019 is the last date to file for homestead for 2017.
May 15 (formally May 31) or 30 days after you receive your value notice is the last day to file your protest.
And speaking of deadlines, the protest season is not far down the road. You’ll be getting your proposed value statement in mid-April and have only a 30-day window to file a protest. We are recommending you do as thousands of others did last year and use our simple application at www.propertytax.io. You’ll get an immediate indicator of your chances for a successful protest for free. If we say you have a good chance or higher for a reduction, we recommend you purchase our professional report, or you can use our DIY tool to modify and supplement our report. You’ll find a lot of useful information relating to property taxes as well. While you are visiting the site, be sure to register so you will get a reminder when the protest window opens.