Utah’s 29 counties recently mailed property tax notices to every Utah property owner. These notices indicate the parcel’s market value, the taxable value, the property tax rate each taxing entity with jurisdiction over the parcel intends to levy, the anticipated total property tax due on the property, and any Truth–in–Taxation hearings being held in the area.

If you believe the county assessor set your property value higher than what it would sell for, state law allows you to appeal the valuation. To begin the appeal process, property owners must notify the county’s Board of Equalization that they intend to appeal their valuation.

Each county accepts notification in different ways. For information on how to notify the Board of Equalization in your county, see instructions included with your mailed property tax notice or call your county assessor’s office.

After notifying the county that you plan to appeal the valuation of your property, the next step is to gather comparable sales data justifying your belief that the county assessor overvalued your property.

If you purchased the property within the past year from an unrelated party, the closing or settlement statement for that sale suffices. If you choose to share it, that sales price will determine your property’s fair market value.You can also identify at least 3 properties similar in style, quality, size, age, location and land area, and then determine the assessed value or sales price of those 3 properties.

The least expensive way to obtain comparable sales data is to contact a real estate agent. Most agents will provide comparable sales data at no charge.You will need to describe your property’s location, physical characteristics (number of bedrooms and bathrooms), size (acreage, finished and unfinished square feet in the home) and age of home. With that information, a real estate agent can usually identify several comparable sales within a few days. Another option is to hire a professional to conduct an appraisal of your property. In Utah, a typical residential appraisal costs about $350, and takes about one week to complete.

If you recently refinanced your property, the bank appraisal can be used in your appeal. Regardless of how you collect comparable sales data, it’s important to collect documents supporting your comparable sales data. These documents may include listings for your comparable sales, county assessments for those properties, or the appraisal you paid for. Having these documents will streamline your appeal, and give you a better chance of winning. Please be aware of one cautionary note: If your comparable sales data, including your property’s closing documents, show the value of your property to be higher than what the assessment notice states, the county may actually increase your assessed valuation higher.

You may be frustrated that your assessed valuation went up 30% in one year, but that frustration will fall on deaf ears if your property proves to be worth even more than what the county assessed.Armed with the best comparable sales data, you will be well prepared to have your property value lowered in your appeals hearing with the Board of Equalization.