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Things to consider before protesting property assessments

DENVER -- It's time to receive property tax assessments. Many homeowners in Colorado are surprised to see a higher home value than they expected.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers learned the average single-family home valuation increased 25.9 percent in Denver, according to the city's assessment division, which added it revalued more than 218,000 properties.

The valuations represent changes in property values from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016.

A website map shows many home values up 20 percent to 40 percent (marked in green), and some up as much as 80 percent (marked in red).

RELATED: Did you get your new property assessment? Add it to our map

City officials say if you don't agree with your assessment, you can file a protest with the county assessor. It must be postmarked or received no later than June 1.

Experts warn that protesting an assessment requires doing research.

Lawyer Barry Goldstein of Sterling Property Tax Specialists has taken commercial property tax cases all the way to the State Supreme Court.

While his firm mostly handles cases involving high-end properties, he points out that every homeowner needs to be prepared before fighting an assessment.

"Look at other homes and see how they compare and on that basis you will say ‘OK, I think my property is overvalued’," Goldstein said.

Getting an assessment changed might not always work to your favor.

"There is a risk that an assessor could raise a value," Goldstein said.

Property tax time usually leaves residents wondering about where the money goes.

City officials said approximately 60 percent of a typical Denver property tax bill is collected for the public school system.

The rest goes toward public safety, human services, affordable housing, street maintenance, parks and many other departments.

For more information about property assessments, tax payments or how to protest an assessment visit Denvergov.org/assessor or call 720-913-4164.

The city notes that under state statute, property valuations are not finalized until after the appeals process concludes and each of the 64 county assessors in Colorado certifies values to the various taxing entities within their county before Dec. 10.