Founder of EasyTaxFix Finds Online Property Tax Service Less Appealing, More Complicated, Than Expected

4/16/09Follow @bvbigelow

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an EasyTaxFix website for the state of New Jersey, which has the nation’s highest property tax rate, according to Berkson. He estimates that 30 percent of New Jersey’s homeowners are over-paying their property taxes, but the Jersey Web traffic has been disappointing.

Berkson says providing the online service in multiple states “is a lot more complex than it sounds—to be able to operate in different states, with appeals forms, and different property tax laws.” Adding to the complexity are the different levels of appeals. In California, for example, Berkson says homeowners can file an “informal” appeal with the County Assessor or a “formal” appeal with the Assessment Appeals Board. And New Jersey has its own system.

In recent months, the Berksons have expanded their EasyTaxFix online service to four other California counties—Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and Fresno—and they plan to add San Bernardino and Santa Clara next week. They added Maricopa County, AZ, (Phoenix and Scottsdale) about a week ago, and plan to launch a site for King County, WA, (Seattle) by the end of this month.

Competitors also are springing up. Seattle-based LowerMyAssessment.com announced earlier this week that its Web-based property assessment service “takes the guesswork and expense out of filing your property tax assessment appeal.” The company says its website will initially serve the states of Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington—and that additional states will be rolled out on a weekly basis. Based on his own experience, Berkson says he doubts they can do it.

“You think it’s simple, and we’ll just pull the data and pull the forms and put it together online,” Berkson said, “but it’s a big data project. For our next startup, I’ve got to pick something that’s cheaper and easier.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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