Company claims homeowners paying too much taxes

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March 5, 2010 4:40:57 AM PST
Many Wake County homeowners are opening interesting mail from Seattle. The letters say they're paying more in local property taxes than they should be.Seattle-based ValueAppeal mailed their offer to several thousand Wake County homeowners.

A.J. Jeffries opened a letter saying ValueAppeal could save him almost $400 a year on property taxes. So he called the Seattle-based company to learn more.

"Smooth talker, as usual," Jeffries said. "They said according to their records I was overpriced."

So Jeffries decided against the offer.

"Find out something about them before I send them any money, but they want you to send the money first," he said.

ValueAppeal claims in 2008 Wake County over-valued as many one in every five homes for tax purposes.

There is a process for appeals, but the founder of ValueAppeal, Charlie Walsh, says "most homeowners think the process is too time consuming and intimidating to undertake. ValueAppeal levels the playing field and empowers homeowners to push back when they're over assessed."

But Wake County's head tax man is concerned about ValueAppeal's claims. He says the first appeal, from ValueAppeal, tried to compare homes which were actually quite different.

"Basically, they're comparing oranges to apples to try to change the value on a home," Wake County Revenue Director Marcus Kinrade said. "Taxpayers are sending their money somewhere, when they could just come down here and talk to us about it for free."

No one denies some home values have fallen. It's easy to find homes for sale at less than the 2008 tax value, but if homeowners want to appeal, it turns out the current market doesn't matter."

Market based appeals must be based on market data before the 2008 assessment.

ValueAppeal says they will do that, for $99.

If the appeal fails, your money is returned.

Wake's revenue director says that math could be a problem.

"I don't want taxpayers to be upset with us after paying $99 for something like that, because I think they are being sold a bill of goods that's just not there," Kinrade said.

However, ValueAppeal says at least dozens of their customers are appealing in Wake County.

Kinrade says that first property tax appeal will be rejected.

But ValueAppeal says customers are calling them from other states saying their appeals are approved without a hearing.

To learn more about ValueAppeal, visit their website at www.valueappeal.com

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