How to Appeal Your High Property Tax Assessment: A Homeowner’s Guide

Strategies to Appeal Your High Property Tax Assessment

As of May 24, 2024, the Jefferson County Board of Equalization protest period is open and runs until June 24, 2024. For those living in Shelby County, the protest period ended on April 28th. I thought I would take some time in this week’s blog post to explain the process you can take to appeal your high real property tax assessment if you think they are too high.

How to Appeal Your High Property Tax Assessment A Homeowner’s Guide

As a residential real estate appraiser with 35 years of experience in the Birmingham, Alabama area, I’ve seen firsthand how tax assessments can sometimes overestimate a property’s value, leading to higher taxes than necessary. Let’s walk through the steps you can take to appeal your assessment and potentially lower your property taxes.

Understanding Property Tax Assessments

Before diving into the appeal process, it’s important to understand how property tax assessments work. Each year, local governments assess the value of properties to determine the amount of property tax owed. These assessments are based on various factors, including the property’s size, location, condition, and comparable sales in the area.

The Assessment Process
The assessor’s office estimates your property’s market value and applies an assessment ratio to determine its assessed value. In Alabama, the assessment ratio for owner-occupied residential properties is 10%. For example, if your home’s market value is assessed at $300,000, the assessed value would be $30,000. The local tax or millage rate is then applied to this assessed value to calculate your property tax.

Reasons to Appeal Your Assessment
There are several reasons why you might consider appealing your property tax assessment:

  • Overvaluation: The assessed value of your property is higher than its actual market value.
  • Inaccurate Property Data: Errors in the property’s characteristics, such as incorrect square footage or number of bedrooms.
  • Comparative Discrepancies: Similar properties in your area are assessed at lower values.

Steps to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment

Now, let’s go through the actionable steps you can take to appeal your property tax assessment successfully.

1. Review Your Assessment Notice
Your first step is to carefully review the assessment notice you receive from the assessor’s office. This notice will include details about your property’s assessed value and the deadline for filing an appeal. For 2024 the protest period for Jefferson County is May 24-June 24.

2. Verify Property Information
Check the property information used by the assessor’s office. This data includes details like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and lot size. If you find any inaccuracies, gather documentation to correct these errors. Common documents include blueprints, property surveys, and photos.

3. Research Comparable Properties
One of the most effective ways to support your appeal is by researching comparable properties, often referred to as “comps.” Look for properties similar to yours in size, age, location, and condition that have recently sold or been assessed at lower values. Websites like Zillow,, and your local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) can be helpful resources for finding this information.

4. Gather Supporting Evidence
In addition to comparable properties, gather any other evidence that supports your claim. This could include:

  • Recent Appraisal: If you’ve had a professional appraisal done recently, this can serve as strong evidence of your property’s true market value.
  • Photos: Take photos of any defects or issues with your property that might lower its value, such as structural damage, outdated fixtures, or needed repairs.
  • Repair Estimates: Obtain estimates for any necessary repairs to demonstrate how these costs affect your property’s value.

5. Prepare Your Appeal
When preparing your appeal, it’s crucial to be organized and thorough. Your appeal should include:

  • A letter or form provided by the assessor’s office outlining your reasons for the appeal.
  • A detailed list of inaccuracies in the property data, if applicable.
  • A list of comparable properties with their assessed values and sale prices.
  • Any supporting evidence, such as recent appraisals, photos, and repair estimates. Be sure to make copies of all documents for your records.

6. File Your Appeal
Submit your appeal to the assessor’s office by the specified deadline. This can usually be done online, by mail, or in person. Double-check that you’ve included all necessary documentation and that your appeal is complete and accurate.

7. Attend the Hearing
If your appeal progresses to a hearing, be prepared to present your case in person. This hearing is your opportunity to explain why you believe your property’s assessed value is incorrect and to present your supporting evidence. Stay calm, be polite, and stick to the facts.

Common Concerns and How to Address Them

As an appraiser, I understand that appealing a property tax assessment can be intimidating. Here are some common concerns and how to address them:

  • Fear of Retaliation: Some homeowners worry that appealing their assessment will result in higher taxes. However, assessors are required to follow strict guidelines and cannot retaliate against appeals.
  • Complex Process: The appeal process can seem complicated, but taking it step-by-step and staying organized can simplify it. Remember, the goal is to ensure your property is assessed fairly.
  • Uncertainty about Evidence: Gathering the right evidence can be challenging, but focusing on accurate property data and relevant comps will strengthen your appeal.

Practical Tips for a Successful Appeal

  • To increase your chances of a successful appeal, consider these practical tips:Start Early: Give yourself plenty of time to gather evidence and prepare your appeal before the deadline.
  • Be Specific: Clearly outline why you believe your assessment is incorrect and support your claims with concrete evidence.
  • Stay Professional: Approach the appeal process professionally and respectfully. A well-prepared and courteous presentation can make a positive impression.
  • Seek Professional Help: You can always obtain an appraisal to support your appeal. It can provide proof from a licensed professional of the true market value of your home. If I can help you with an appraisal please let me know.


Appealing a high property tax assessment can seem overwhelming, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it’s entirely manageable. By understanding the assessment process, gathering supporting evidence, and presenting a well-organized appeal, you can potentially lower your property taxes and ensure your home is assessed fairly.

Remember, the goal is to have your property assessed accurately based on its true market value. If you have any questions or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out. As a professional appraiser, I’m here to help you achieve a fair assessment of your property.

I hope this guide provides you with the information and confidence you need to appeal your property tax assessment. If you found this post helpful, feel free to share it with others who might benefit from it, and as always thanks for reading.

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  1. Tom, is there a limit to how much property taxes can go up in a given year in Alabama? In California, it’s basically close to 2% or so due to Proposition 13 (unless there is a change of ownership, special assessment, etc…). Good stuff here.

    • Thanks, Ryan. No, there is no limit. Over the past several years we have seen some major increases in property values and taxes, however, some of the increase is not warranted. Some of the increase is related to higher land values that are not supported by the sales.


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