Adapting the Commercial Tax Appeal Process for the 21st Century
Chronically slow. That’s the modus operandi for many tax consultants and attorneys that handle appeals on your behalf, leaving many taxpayers wondering what is taking so long to resolve their appeal.
Here’s the dirty little secret: If your 1st level appeal takes more than a few months to resolve, it’s because your provider didn’t make the effort to prepare your case in time for the first scheduled hearing. In states like Maryland, you can file an appeal with a simple application. No evidence or supporting documentation is required. As soon as that application is filed, the local assessor’s office will schedule your appeal, and many times that hearing date is only two to three weeks out from the day they received your application.
Building a strong valuation case with effective evidence that is well supported requires effort. It requires a proper valuation of the property using one, two, or all three approaches to valuation (income, cost, and sales). It may also require a property tour, research on comparable assessments, a narrative supporting your analysis and approach, as well as time to analyze and pick apart the taxing jurisdiction’s own approach to the assessment valuation. If you are working with someone that is managing hundreds of appeals and they have not done most of this work up front prior to filing the appeal application, or they do not have the resources and technology to prepare this level of detailed analysis required to wage an effective appeal then they simply will not have the time to be ready for that first hearing.
As a result, they do the unthinkable and unforgivable… they POSTPONE! When your consultant or attorney postpones that hearing (because they are not ready), it goes to the BACK of the line and it could take months for a new hearing date. All the while you as the taxpayer are staring down the barrel of huge tax bill. Now don’t get me wrong, in a very small number of cases, evidence comes to light or complexities in the valuation arise that may dictate you postpone in order to prepare accordingly. However, that should be the very rare exception and not the norm.
In my two decades of tax appeal experience, I have always built my team’s process around preparation well in advance of the 1st filing. Even before the actual assessments are issued! At Cavalry we have preliminary valuations, applications, research, narratives, and detailed files for every property we represent and jurisdiction where we work. And based on our technology platform we will never leave our clients out in the cold, nor will we waste their time and money postponing appeals because we were unprepared – because we never are.
If you have someone representing your tax appeal interests and they chronically postpone appeal hearings, then look elsewhere. It means they were unprepared, lazy, or both. Pursuing effective appeals in a timely manner is difficult, and it’s incredibly difficult to do it well. If it wasn’t, more people would do it. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible and it certainly isn’t an excuse for being slow. Call in the Cavalry. We’re on time, all the time.BACK TO ARTICLES