by Dan Auld
Bill Gunderson knows what rich people own. What they buy and sell. And what they pay in property taxes. As one of America’s top wealth managers, he’s seen it all.
And without a doubt, he says the easiest way for property owners to make money is to reassess the value of their homes to reduce property taxes.
“People all over America are paying way too much in property taxes,” Gunderson said. “And it is easy to see why: Property values have crashed, in many cases by 50% and more. But many are still paying taxes on the former value of their homes.”
The owner of a commercial building in Southern California, for example, recently received a property tax bill based on an assessed value of $2.6 million, But the property has been listed for half of that for almost a year — and still no takers.
“That person is paying tens of thousands a year too much,” Gunderson says. “In many states more.”
Many do not notice that because their property taxes are paid automatically as part of their mortgage payment. “It is the most expensive and common mistake I see,” Gunderson said. “And the most important and easiest to fix.”
Examples are easy to find. And easy to understand. But Gunderson says the real challenge is filing the application to have your assessment reduced. It is not that hard.
Some companies will charge you a few hundred dollars to perform this service, and that can be the most productive investment you will make all year.
The filing deadline to appeal this year’s assessment varies by state and county.
In Utah, the deadline is 45 days after receipt of your assessment, which is mailed out in July. In California you have from Apil through the deadline of November 30.
But usually that is for taxes due next year. So if you have a bill based on an unrealistic assessment, you still have to pay that. Fair or not.
“That is ridiculous,” Gunderson said. “These property tax bills should go down automatically. But they don’t. So you have to pay attention and present evidence from comparable values or recent appraisals that show you property is over-valued.”
“It’s not that hard to do. You just download a form from your local tax assessor’s office then send it in.”
Even some of the big shot accountants for very wealthy people do not pay enough attention to this, Gunderson said. And it is not just for homes, it is also for commercial properties, rentals, and other tax-paying entities.
Gunderson is a frequent guest on national news and financial shows, including America Live with Megyn Kelly, America’s Nighty Scoreboard with David Asman, Bloomberg News, Barron’s, and dozens of others.
He is also the author of the Best Stocks Now app. “It is good to know all about earnings and stock reports and new products and other things that are important to an investment portfolio,” Gunderson said. “But making sure the county assessor has the correct value for your property is for many people found money, free money. But first you have to read your property tax bill and compare it to what your property is worth. The rest is easy.”