How to Take Pain Out of Your Property Tax Planning?

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Planning your taxes ahead of time can save you money and take the stress out of filing. The average property tax rate of Fairfax County’s 1.03% is below average by national standard, but it is still a bit higher than Virginia’s 0.80% state effective rate. Here are some tips for streamlining your Fairfax County property tax.

Finding Your Home's Market Value

You should know the market value of your home to file your property tax return accurately.

The Fairfax County Department of Equalization is responsible for determining assessed values for properties within the county, so you'll need to contact them for this information.

The Department of Equalization of Fairfax County values all properties every three years on January 1st. If your property has been affected by new construction or renovations during that time, it could affect the assessed value of your property.

If you wish to get a property in the coming year, it's a good idea to get a valuation from the Department of Equalization to ensure that your property is valued correctly.

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Estimate Your Tax Benefits

Many factors contribute to your home's taxable value, including age, condition, and size. For this reason, it's difficult to give an accurate estimate of what your property taxes will be.

If you're buying a new home, the seller may provide you with an estimate of taxes and insurance costs for that particular property. You can also research your county's average tax rates online to get a rough idea of what to expect when filing your return.

Auto-Enrollment in Tax Deferment Program

The Fairfax County Tax Relief Program allows qualified homeowners age 62 or older to defer the tax increases on their homes as long as they continue to live there. To qualify, you must either own your home outright or have a fixed income of at least $43,000 per year and a minimum equity of $50,000 in your home.

You'll have to enroll in this program every year if you qualify.

If you're buying a new home, your lender may offer automatic enrollment in the Tax Deferment Program for qualified buyers. Make sure that your loan officer is aware of the tax deferments offered by your county to factor them into their calculations.

Determine if You Can Transfer Your Exemption

If you've owned a property for one year before the tax assessment date, you may be able to transfer your homestead exemption from another state or county. To do this, you must have filed taxes under that address within the previous 12 months.

Clients are eligible for a homestead exemption if they are in the military or work for a state or local government. However, these exemptions can only be transferred between states and not to another county within Virginia.

Be Aware of Tax Collection Costs

If you're late paying your Fairfax County property tax, you might also get charged interest on top of your tax bill. The Fairfax County Tax Collection office offers a 7 percent interest on unpaid taxes and deferrals, as well as a $20 fee for late payments.

If you're having trouble paying your property taxes, contact the Tax Collections Office immediately to see if they can help you by deferring some of your tax bills or setting up an income-based payment plan.

Know How to Appeal Your Assessment

If you feel that your home's market value has been incorrectly assessed, you can appeal it by contacting the Department of Equalization.

You'll need to provide specific information about how and why your assessment is incorrect and sign a sworn statement stating the truthfulness of the information provided.

If your assessment is reduced as a result of the appeal, you'll be refunded the amount that you overpaid minus a $15 application fee. If your assessment is upheld, you can take the case to Circuit Court but will have to pay a filing fee.

Prepare for Future Assessments

If your home becomes subject to tax lien sales because of unpaid taxes, it's essential to get on top of the issue immediately. You can protect your home from being sold at tax lien sales by signing up for an installment plan with the Fairfax County Tax Collections Office.

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