Property tax appeal and gavel on a table

Top tips for accounting firms: How to help clients with property tax assessment appeals

Doing more with less has long been a business ideal. This is especially important for accounting firms, given staffing shortages and business model challenges

However, adversity often breeds opportunity. For instance, many issues facing accounting firms and practices, such as tax complexity, regulatory changes, and even talent acquisition, also affect accounting departments and business owners. By finding solutions, you can expand your services to create new revenue streams for many clients who need them. 

One area with high growth potential is property tax services. Property tax is a high-cost expense for many businesses. The complexity of managing real and personal property tax compliance also means many companies may be overpaying taxes, eating into their bottom line, or underpaying taxes, putting themselves at higher risk during an audit.

The holy grail for accounting firms offering property tax services is property tax assessment appeals. Appeals work can be highly lucrative, especially if you use automated solutions to help you manage the process. In addition, appeals work gives you great insight into a company’s books, allowing you to offer additional services you know the business needs.

Here are a few key considerations if you’re thinking of offering property tax services:

Why should an accounting firm offer property tax assessment appeals services?

In summary, property tax compliance is complex, and few people want to take the time to become proficient at managing it — especially those with other day-to-day tax, accounting, and finance responsibilities.

But most businesses have either real property or business personal property tax obligations (or both). Mismanaging those obligations can lead to noncompliance and subsequent financial penalties.

In some cases, businesses may be paying too much in property taxes. While anyone can appeal a property tax assessment, doing so is complicated for several reasons, including:

  • There’s a time crunch. Most appeals are due within 30 days of the assessment — and not all jurisdictions send notices.
  • There’s no standard process. Each jurisdiction has its own appeals processes and paperwork.
  • There’s a LOT of legwork. Specific and thorough documentation is required to prove an incorrect assessment.

For many businesses, the time and resources required to manage a property tax appeal aren’t available, so they simply pay the tax.

But that’s where your firm can come in. By taking the burden of appeals work off the hands of accounting staff or business owners, you can help right-size their tax bill. By identifying where assessors have overvalued personal or real property, you can save your clients money without them having to pull resources from revenue-generating tasks.

How can firms incorporate property tax assessment appeals into their business?

You can add property tax assessment appeals services with a variety of customer acquisition strategies:

Expand services to existing property tax clients

This is the most obvious place to start. If you already handle property tax filing services for clients, gathering the information needed to verify the assessment amount is relatively easy. Likely, you’ll either have the evidence you need to justify an appeal or will know how to access it easily.

Offer property tax services to existing clients

Because most businesses own real estate or valuable equipment, many will owe tax on that property. With insight into a business’s financial landscape, you’ll have the information you need to help you determine likely obligations and potential assessment issues. Making existing clients aware of your property tax compliance services can be mutually beneficial.

Use property tax assessment appeals services to attain new clients

Many accounting departments or business owners may have a good handle on property taxes so long as it’s just a matter of filing the return and paying the bill. However, helping potential clients understand the value of appeals services if they’re improperly assessed can help you attract new clients. Once you know their business well enough to process property tax assessment appeals, you may find opportunities to offer additional accounting services.

How can I make property tax assessment appeals services more profitable?

Property tax in general, and assessment appeals in particular, can be a lot of work. Adding property tax services to improve your firm’s bottom line may seem counterintuitive.

However, the knowledge gained about a business while managing property tax compliance can open the door for additional accounting opportunities. You can offer these services with the right technology without adding headcount or overburdening existing staff.

A property tax solution that uses automation and AI to help you manage your clients’ compliance can be a boon to your business while keeping your services affordable for your clients.

Automation can help streamline the property tax assessment appeals process, including:

  • Property valuation
  • Return filing
  • Document extraction
  • Appeals filing

Avalara and your business

Avalara Property Tax for Accountants is just one of the products we offer to help accounting practices automate client services. It is a single place to manage property tax compliance for multiple clients.

Avalara Property Tax for Accountants helps you scan and maintain documents for automated data extraction. And with documents stored in a secure database, they’re on hand in the event of an appeal. 

By automating property tax compliance services, you can help expand your business to include high-demand property tax and assessment appeals services. To find out if Avalara suits your firm, schedule a call with one of our representatives today.

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