Owning property has many benefits, including the potential ability to make money over time and sell your property at an increased value. But being a property owner also has certain obligations, including the duty of paying property taxes on an annual basis.
The following reviews everything you need to know about property taxes in Alabama, including how property taxes are determined, when they’re due, and what you should know about appealing a property tax bill in our state. For help navigating the process, please reach out to our experienced property tax lawyers at the law offices of Davis, Bingham, Hudson & Buckner, P.C.
How Is a Property Tax Value Determined?
Property taxes in Alabama are determined based on a property’s assessed value. The assessed value of a property is determined by the appraisal value and the property classification, which is the assessment rate. There are a few important terms that you’ll need to know when considering how property tax is determined:
- Millage rate. The millage rate, according to the Alabama Department of Revenue, is the tax rate (set by county commissions and other taxing agencies where you live) expressed in decimal form. 1000 mills are equivalent to $1.
- Exemptions. You may have exemptions that reduce the amount that you owe, resulting in your adjusted tax bill. One common exemption, for example, is the homestead exemption.
- Property classification. There are four classes of properties in Alabama: Class I, Class II, Class III, and Class IV. For example, private automobiles are Class IV properties, whereas residential manufactured homes are Class III properties.
If your property tax amount goes up, it’s for one of two reasons. First, a tax rate increase (millage increase) could lead to an increased tax bill, or, second, if your property has increased in its appraised value, then your property tax bill will increase, too. Note that those who are disabled, blind, or over 65 years of age do not have to pay state property taxes, but may still owe county property taxes.
Can I Appeal My Property Tax Bill in Alabama?
Property taxes are due by October 1; by January 1, a person who has not yet paid their property taxes will be considered delinquent. That being said, when you receive your property tax bill in the mail, you maintain the right to appeal the property tax bill if you do not agree with it.
If you do not agree with the value of your property (and therefore believe that your bill is inflated based on the reported appraised value), you maintain the right to appeal per Alabama Code. This process entails:
- File a written appeal with the Board of Equalization.
- The written notice must be filed within 30 days from the date of the notice of value.
- Your appeal will be considered by a county appraiser, who will review your valuation.
Note that in filing your written appeal, you must include a detailed statement of the reason as to why you are filing the appeal/why you don’t agree with the assessment, as well as a copy of the final assessment. It is strongly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney who can assist you in this process.
What happens if I still don’t agree?
If, after the county appraiser reviews your valuation, you still do not agree with the value for which your property has been appraised, the next step is to schedule a hearing before the Board of Equalization (BOE). During the hearing, you will be provided with time to present evidence and information supporting your claim. The BOE will then issue its finding. If you disagree with the BOE finding, you once again maintain the right to appeal, this time to the Circuit Court of the county where your property is located. Again, this appeal must be filed within 30 days of receiving the decision from the BOE post-hearing.
Our Lawyers Can Help
Appealing a property tax assessment on your own is not easy, and requires not just insight and experience in property tax law and the appeals process, but also knowledge of how assessments and appraisals are made. Working with a real estate lawyer who is familiar in property tax law is one of the best ways to improve the chances of your appeal being successful.
To learn more about how to appeal a property tax bill in Alabama and what your rights are as a property taxpayer, please call the office of Davis, Bingham, Hudson & Buckner, P.C. today for a consultation at (334) 821-1908. You can also send us a message online or visit our Auburn location in person.