Auditors: Beware of tax-reduction claims

By DENISE GRANT
Staff Writer
Putnam County Auditor Robert Benroth is warning residents to beware of companies that guarantee reduced property taxes for a fee.
Benroth said the claim is misleading. Property tax appeals are considered by each county’s Board of Revisions, and each case is considered on its own merit, he said. Some appeals can even end in property taxes being increased, not decreased, he said.
Ohio residents may file a “DTE 1,” the form used to challenge the valuation of real property, in their home county free of charge. Complaints must be filed by the March 31 deadline.
A third party is not needed to file the complaint, Benroth said. A recent sale of a similar property or a recent appraisal can be used as proof in a challenge.
Property records and the DTE 1 form are available at the Putnam County Auditor’s Office, 245 E. Main St., Ottawa, and are also available online at www.co.putnam.oh.us.
Hancock County Auditor Charity Rauschenberg has issued similar warnings, and in November, the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals ordered a Cleveland attorney to reimburse Hancock County for time the county spent preparing for an apparently bogus property tax appeal hearing.
Rauschenberg said the state tax appeals board ordered attorney Rami Awadallah to pay the county $90 as a monetary sanction because of “the repetitive nature of his misconduct.”
The order was issued Oct. 24, when Awadallah failed to appear at a hearing he initiated on behalf of a Hancock County rental company. Awadallah practices with the law firm Bernlohr, Niekamp & Weisensell, Akron.
Rauschenberg said Awadallah is an attorney with one of several companies that have been soliciting local homeowners, promising to lower their property tax bills.
Some companies are offering a “custom report” on property values, charging as much as $159 for the work. The company then completes a Board of Revision filing, often without the knowledge or permission of the homeowner. When the hearings are held, no one from the company appears to represent the taxpayer.
Property values used by Hancock County can be checked by using the auditor’s website at http://auditor.co.hancock.oh.us/.
Grant: 419-427-8412
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Twitter: CourierDenise

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