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A representative from my town showed up unannounced at my house today and asked to come in to do a property tax assessment. I [politely] declined. The representative was reasonable and left a card advising us that it is important to schedule an appraisal appointment.

What would happen if I don't schedule an appointment? Is this suggestion from Investopedia accurate?

Allow the Assessor Access to Your Home

You do not have to allow the tax assessor into your home. However, what typically happens if you do not permit access to the interior is that the assessor assumes you've made certain improvements such as added fixtures or made exorbitant refurbishments. This could result in a bigger tax bill.

Assuming that eventually I will have to let them in to look around, what are things that I would need to know about/be sure to say/be careful not to say?

It seems obvious that I'd want a low-ball appraisal, to keep our property taxes low, right?

I own a small house in need of updating in a neighborhood with many large, newer houses in Grafton County, New Hampshire, US.

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    Need to know the jurisdiction for an answer - at least the state, possibly county and/or city. Where I live, I've never heard of a tax appraisal that required a visit, let alone access to the house. It's basically determined by sales price, adjusted for inflation & market conditions. The first thing I'd do would be to contact your taxing authority (county assessor?) to find out if this is legitimate.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 24 at 2:37
  • I edited to include the county/state/country. Tax appraisals are common here and the phone number on the card is legit.
    – nuggethead
    Feb 24 at 2:39
  • If you live in Illinois you can remove all the toilets from your home. This significantly reduces your property tax bill.
    – TTT
    Feb 24 at 3:29
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    I wonder if when you call to schedule, if you can ask them what they are looking for, and what kind of information they may need to update. Finished basement, new bathroom in the basement, remodeled kitchen, etc. Given that it's still a pandemic, you wouldn't be (completely) out of line to say you're not comfortable with someone coming in your house. Perhaps you could tell them what they need to know over the phone, depending on what they're looking for.
    – TTT
    Feb 24 at 3:46
  • Like @jamesqf I've never heard of such a thing. Our assessor's office looks at the square footage then compares it to the prices of recently sold, similarly sized homes in the same neighborhood.
    – RonJohn
    Feb 24 at 5:51
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I called the town today. For anyone in a similar situation, I'd recommend calling and asking about the process as it varies from town to town. Here's what I learned:

  • The town maintains a database of all properties, which includes the details of every past assessment. These are free and readily available to view online. I checked mine and found a few errors that may actually save me money (a porch listed as living space that is actually unheated, etc.).
  • The town prefers to visit frequently to make sure their assessments are accurate.
  • If I don't schedule an assessment, they will assess taxes based on their best guess of my home's value based on the most recent assessment.
  • The town is willing to set up Zoom assessments to keep people outside of your family out of your space during the pandemic.
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  • A government that does something sensible?! (Assessment by Zoom). What's next, cats and dogs getting along? Feb 25 at 4:10
  • Well, it IS the land of the libertarian ... Live free or die (but pay your property tax)
    – nuggethead
    Feb 25 at 13:21
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If the tax assessor gets really serious or suspicious, the tax assessor can get a search warrant or the moral equivalent of one, to do so.

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  • I'm not suspicious, not do I mind if they come in. It is commonplace around here and I dont intend to require a search warrant or anything like that. I'm mostly interested in finding out how to get the most favorable assessment.
    – nuggethead
    Feb 24 at 10:49

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