Commercial property tax may be a fixed cost, but it is both negotiable and an area that offers the potential for dramatic savings for your company. Yet despite this, many organizations do not negotiate the money they are paying on their property, whether they are lessees or owners. This has a lot to do with the amount of experience required to negotiate on these rates.
In this blog, we examine the potential for savings that your company can achieve by negotiating your commercial property tax, and the best ways to go about that process.
A fixed cost refers to a recurring payment that doesn’t change with an increase or decrease in the number of goods produced or sold. Property tax is something that remains static regardless of how your business is doing. Generally, you can expect increases on how much you will be paying year over year.
While property taxes are typically seen as non-negotiable, in reality most businesses simply don’t find the time to attempt reducing this fixed cost. Similar to other monthly expenses like water, sewer, gas, and electric, many businesses are overpaying on property taxes, and like those costs, commercial property taxes can be negotiated.
One of the biggest misconceptions around property tax as a fixed cost is the notion that it is non-negotiable. This is not limited to commercial real estate owners – commercial lessees can also appeal the assessments on which their property taxes are based.
It is fairly routine in commercial real estate for those leasing property to be responsible for the full amount or a portion of property taxes. This is called a net lease, or in situations where the tenants are responsible for property taxes, maintenance costs, and insurance premiums, a triple net lease. These businesses have the legal right to appeal under the terms of their lease agreements with their landlords. In some states, the claims of lessees are prioritized over owners, meaning that enterprises operating under net leases may dispute assessments without owner involvement.
If the legal groundwork for reducing property taxes as a fixed cost, why aren’t more businesses disputing it?
In short, the process is often overwhelming. Understanding state and local tax codes are essential for the success of filing appeals, and the time and experience required to sift through this information is something most businesses don’t know how to do and don’t want to waste time doing.
Yet for businesses that successfully negotiate on their property taxes, a wealth of savings is available. Roughly 40% of companies who’ve hired us to negotiate on their behalf have realized substantial savings in this area of cost savings alone.
Data suggest that that between low appeal rates and high rates of over-assessment, more companies should be taking advantage of the appeals process for property taxes as a reduced fixed cost. Why aren’t more companies doing this?
Property taxes are complicated, but the assumption that negotiating it is impossible is a myth. Securing an expert to work on your behalf produces the best results, as they have the experience to work through the entire process.
To start, property taxes should be seen as a variable rather than a straightforward rate or number. While property tax may be a fixed cost, it is not a fixed number. Property value assessed through three different variables:
Income: This value represents the income a property generates against the costs associated with producing that income.
Replacement/Cost: An assessment of what it would cost to replace the property’s structures and features.
Market: The market value of the property in question in comparison to similar properties in the area.
Running these numbers illustrates that both the value and the rate are processes, not principles. For instance, an assessor who develops their assessment based on the cost of replacing the property within current market conditions does so under a long list of variables such as building materials, structural elements, and design that may be regionally specific. Understanding the heuristics that assessors use when making judgments on commercial properties is key to countering with your own assessment.
The imbalance between actual market value and the intervals by which local assessment cycles occur means that too often, companies are not paying property taxes that reflect the actual worth of their building. Using a third party that doesn’t charge up front can help ensure that you’re getting the right rate, and can lead to considerable savings for your business.
At SIB, our team of experts help businesses across the country ensure that they are paying a fair rate on their property taxes. We understand all of the elements that go into calculating property taxes, and know how to negotiate on your behalf. We only get paid if you save money, meaning that we will fight to ensure that you get the best pricing available – no questions asked.
Are you ready to start saving on your property taxes? Contact us today for more information about our services.