No doubt about it, finding out your home has been assessed a higher property tax appraisal can be a financial nightmare, akin to a root canal or even working as Simon Cowell’s personal assistant.

But don’t be surprised if you’re the target of a property tax hike on your home. Studies show that home property taxes are doubling the rate of inflation so far this decade, even as U.S. homes have, on average, lost up to 40% and even 50% of their values (particularly in hard-hit areas like California, Nevada and Florida).

Another figure, this one from the National Taxpayers Union, estimates that 60% of U.S. properties are “overvalued”, yet only one out of 50 homeowners ever to appeal their property tax hikes.

Perhaps if the other 49 people knew that they had options and that contesting your property tax appraisal is easier than you might think.

Come to think of it, fighting your property tax appraisal is a process that you can actually do yourself, with the aid of pricey lawyer or property tax negotiator (who usually takes 50% of any money it saves you).

If that sounds appealing to you, take these steps to fight your property tax appraisal:

Know what you’re up against – Invariably, no two cities, towns, or counties calculate property taxes. But every locality should have an assessor’s office. Your job is to contact that office and ask how it calculates property tax values.

Find out specifically the formula for figuring out your property’s value (usually your tax rate is calculated against the appraised value of your home). Also ask what components or criteria go into the office’s home appraisal process (that usually includes your home’s square footage and the current value of other similar properties in your neighborhood).

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