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In David Chitlik’s most recently published article in Hotel Executive Magazine, he explores the decision to appeal a hospitality property’s tax assessment – and how the process often involves complex factors with some of them being potentially expensive.

“Deciding to appeal seems straightforward, but before the decision is made, the hotelier needs to understand that appealing a property assessment can be more art than science,” writes David Chitlik, Altus Group’s Vice President, Property Tax, Hospitality.

“It’s not just the facts and figures to consider. These have a supporting role, but an appeal puts them in context with other data to persuade an appeals board and, perhaps eventually, a judge that a property assessor with years in the business has made a mistake. It’s showing convincingly that an appellant’s opinion of value outweighs that of a professional assessor who works under strict laws, rules, regulations, guidelines and interpretations, many of them nuanced by the tax jurisdiction. Assessors can also benefit from a greater understanding of the appeal process than the appellant.”

However, appeals can work, and the reward from a successful appeal can be important to the appellant’s bottom line. Success usually depends on hiring the right person or team to present the case to an appeals board and/or court.

In the article, David points to demands for expertise at each level of the appeal process, outlining ways to find that expertise along the way. Each state has its own real estate assessment appeal code, and every tax jurisdiction has its own nuances and culture that require understanding built on experience.

In Ohio, for example, an attorney is needed. In most other states, an appellant is better off hiring a property tax consultant who has experience in the tax jurisdiction involved. If the appeal is minor, based on mistakes made by the assessor, it’s even possible for the appellant to make the case. In most situations, though, the appellant is better off managing the property and letting the expert manage the appeal.

The investment is usually a contingency fee that serves as an incentive for the tax consultant to help you make your first decision – whether to appeal at all – and then work toward a final decision, by an appeals board or court, which comes out in your favor.

Read the full article here. This is the fifth in David’s series on hospitality property tax issues published by Hotel Executive Magazine.

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