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June 19, 2024

Streamlining Property Tax Appeals Through Technology

Explore how precise information processing in property tax management can optimize your appeals management process. Discover the benefits of technological solutions like itamlink in centralizing data, reducing errors, and streamlining operations for appeals management.


In today's data-driven landscape, the way we process information can spell the difference between mediocrity and resounding success. This is especially true in fields requiring pinpoint accuracy, where even a percentage deviation can exact a significant financial impact. Property tax management is an example of just such a field, as the industry has traditionally relied on manual processes when gathering the information required to make an appeal to what might be deemed an inaccurate assessment.

It should probably come as no surprise that this can lead to errors. A recent article titled ‘data entry across multiple systems’ from December of 2023 demonstrates that manual data entry is fraught with risks and errors, with typical error rates ranging from 1% to 5% depending on the complexity of the data and proficiency of those carrying out the work. Though it may seem like a small percentage, numbers like this can lead to significant discrepancies when assembling the extensive and detailed data required for property tax appeals.

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In an article titled ‘How Manual Data Entry and Human Error Are Costing You Money’, author Frank Tilleli states the impact of errors like this are not only numerical; they cost money, which directly impacts financial reporting, regulatory compliance, and strategic decision-making. In the context of property tax appeals, where final decisions will be rendered based on the precision of data presented, even a minor error rate can lead to substantial financial losses, and inaccurate tax liabilities. Circumstances like this underscore the urgency for technological solutions that can automate and refine the data management process, which can go a long way in enhancing accuracy and reducing human error.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the significance of precision in commercial property tax appeals and the role technology can play in achieving precision and maximizing its financial impact.

The Importance of Precision in Property Tax Appeals

The scenario is a familiar one. A property owner receives an assessment notice from a local taxing authority presenting a number representing their assessment of what the subject property may be worth. This becomes the basis upon which a taxable liability is derived. The methodology used to arrive at that figure can sometimes be general and is often opaque. Upon receiving this notice, the building owner must first consider how close the assessed value is to their own perception of value. If there seems to be a deviation, the next step is considering making an appeal.

This is something that must be weighed carefully as the stakes can be high and the margin for error is minimal. As such, if a property owner decides to proceed with an appeal, precision is critical not only because of the financial implications, but in many cases for legal and operational integrity.

Financial Implications

  • Direct Costs: Inaccuracies in property tax appeals can result in significant financial impacts, the most prominent are incorrect tax liabilities. For example, consider over assessment resulting from incorrect data can result in an organization paying more taxes than necessary, which directly impacts its bottom line.
  • Indirect Costs: The costs of rectifying errors, including unanticipated legal costs, and staff time spent making corrections and resubmitting appeals (assuming a subject jurisdiction will ever permit this) can be significant. Additionally, errors can often trigger audits or closer scrutiny from taxing authorities, which can lead to operational delays and additional expenses.

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Legal Repercussions

  • Compliance Risks: Property tax laws and regulations are stringent. Appeal-based errors can lead to non-compliance, which can result in fines, penalties, or legal entanglements. Maintaining compliance with regulatory standards is not just about avoiding fines and other penalties, but it’s also about maintaining a company’s reputation within the industry.
  • Dispute Resolution: Inaccurate appeals submissions can result in disputes with taxing authorities, which might require legal assistance. Not only can this increase costs, but it also ties up resources that could be put to higher and better uses.

Operational Efficiency

  • Resource Allocation: in the event of errors in tax appeals induced by manual inputting, property owners likely need to draw on resources from other critical areas, which can compromise the overall efficiency of operations. Staff may need to be directed to address deficiencies, detracting from their core responsibilities and slowing down other initiatives in the project pipeline.
  • Decision Making: Having accurate data is the key to driving sharp decision-making. Errors in property tax-related data can drive sub-optimal decision making, resulting from incorrect financial assessments, and potentially leading to larger strategic missteps.

Reputational Damage

  • Maintaining stakeholder trust is crucial, and repeated errors and omissions in commercial property tax filings can tarnish the reputation of a company that may have taken years to build. This is particularly true in the case of publicly traded companies, where investor confidence can change on a dime and be directly swayed by perceptions of operational competence and regulatory compliance.

Precision is Key

The need for precision in commercial property tax appeals simply cannot be overstated. Every submission requires meticulous checking for accuracy because the consequences of even seemingly inconsequential errors can produce a cascading effect. As such, investing in solutions that place a premium on data management and centralization is not only advisable, but it is essential for any organization with significant property holdings.

The Challenges of Manual Processing in Commercial Property Tax Appeals

Quantifying data complexity in a disorganized environment is like battling a multi-headed beast. Without advanced technology, data often comes from fragmented sources like spreadsheets and manual records, making accuracy difficult to verify. The core issue is the lack of centralization. Aggregating information into one location is challenging, especially when multiple stakeholders across various jurisdictions have differing data collection methods. Without uniformity, this process becomes problematic.

This is only the beginning, as we need to address volume and scalability issues when managing commercial property tax appeals. There are several implications to handling large amounts of data and the required processes needed to effectively manage this. Consider some of the issues detailed below:

Data Volume

  • Large Portfolios: companies with extensive property portfolios are naturally tasked with dealing with significant volumes of data when they are in the process of preparing for tax appeals. Consider that each property’s assessment involves analyzing multiple data points, which can include historical data, comparable properties, and the specific tax rules associated with different jurisdictions.
  • Integrating Data: Integrating data from multiple sources at high volume is resource-intensive, and lends itself to errors, especially when dealing with data from the types of multiple sources described above. Manual data input and analysis increases the likelihood of errors.

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Scalability Challenges

  • Adjusting to Portfolio Changes: As businesses grow, and portfolios expand, the systems used for managing property tax obligations need to scale accordingly. Static systems under these circumstances need to be modified, or in some cases, completely overhauled in order to meet the demands of an ever-changing and dynamic environment.
  • Adjusting to Peak Periods: given the seasonal nature of property taxes (consider all the phases of the property tax lifecycle), peaks will naturally coincide with assessment notices and appeal deadlines. Systems that are unable to scale to meet the demands of higher volumes might lead to delays and increased error rates.

Technological Constraints

  • Systems Limitations: Many companies default to using old or legacy systems which often can’t handle the data volume associated with large portfolios and multiple data points. Sometimes, increased data can’t be processed, and there are limits on how much data may be able to be processed at once.
  • Upgrading Systems or Maintaining Legacy Systems: Upgrading older systems to adapt to heightened data volume or improved processing speeds can be costly and time consuming. Additionally, such systems may require frequent maintenance to ensure they operate efficiently at scale.

Resource Allocation

  • Increased Resource Demand: managing large data volumes requires a significant amount of human input. With increases in data volume, manpower requirements accordingly rise. This isn’t always feasible, especially for companies with limited staff or budget constraints
  • Training and Expertise: if operations need to be scaled up, this often requires additional staff training or hiring personnel with specialized knowledge in property tax and data management – something that can impose significant overhead costs.

Strategic Solutions

To address such volume and scalability issues, companies should seek out specialized property tax software solutions like itamlink. itamlink can offer the following:

  • Centralized data management: itamlink makes manual data management a thing of the past. Error rates are significantly lowered, and large data volumes can be handled with ease.
  • Automatic scalability: itamlink can seamlessly scale which adapts to dynamic portfolios.

Technological Solutions to Increase Data Precision

Human error is effectively neutralized, and becomes a non-issue if organizations opt to adopt robust technological solutions like itamlink. We have touched on issues associated with manual input including the inability to efficiently manage data ingestion, cumbersome processing, and limitations of robust data analysis. Adopting solutions like itamlink neutralize these issues in their tracks as they become automated, which effectively streamlines the entire process.

This can yield other valuable benefits as well, not the least of which is enhancing reporting capabilities. The nature of reporting itself can be spontaneous. A senior executive about to go into a meeting needs to know a year-over-year comparison of property tax liabilities in a given region. If a company finds itself still using manual processes, it may have to draw on several sources to get a reasonable estimate of what this figure might be. However, with itamlink, they can effortless access this information in real time, and obtain year-over-year reports for taxes, and measure variances. It’s a powerful upgrade from the standards that existed before.

Integrations into other systems play a significant role with itamlink as well, as it can integrate data from multiple sources and ensure compliance with constantly changing tax laws and regulations. Itamlink was designed to process property taxes and action the data so it can be used in various locations, meaning it can be pushed to other applications, providing there is an API connected to other applications.

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Case Study: Large Retailer Makes the Switch to itamlink

A prominent retailer with a national footprint spanning hundreds of taxing jurisdictions had a significant portfolio of assets that were both owned and leased.  The traditional approach they employed to manage their portfolio was to decentralize the property tax management function, which offloaded these responsibilities to multiple departments, third party service providers, and software solutions. In the absence of an integrated platform to efficiently manage assessments and appeals with one source of data, they faced the ongoing challenge of managing the risk exposures associated with non-centralized management and data.  

The complexity associated with multiple networks of stakeholders and processes across multiple jurisdictions often led to chaos, which overburdened staff and hindered the effective execution of other duties (a problem that became particularly pronounced during peak periods).

Though itamlink was being used by some of the stakeholders, its full potential was not being fully realized. To achieve this, it was important that the property tax management function was centralized to a single source of truth which sought to end manual input inefficiencies once and for all.

After itamlink was adopted throughout the organization, a go-live date was established, and within 10 months, a plan was set in motion for system-wide implementation. The initial focus was on assessment and appeals work, but the main emphasis was converting more than 50,000 scattered files – mostly historical records into electronic data. This was a process that needed to be done manually. In the end, this monumental task was completed within 9 months.  

The new streamlined approach to property tax management significantly reduced operating costs, as previously disparate systems and processes were now efficiently centralized. As a result of this change, itamlink fundamentally changed the way they managed this important corporate function. In effect they transitioned from a reactive property tax management approach to one that was far more proactive, and hence strategic. They evolved from a dispersed tax operations management model, heavily reliant on manual input, to a centralized data-centric model.


Property tax appeals represent a critical component within the property tax lifecycle. It is the point where property tax professionals need to decide what property tax assessments need to be appealed (and ideally, create an ordered sequence of relevancy), they need to quickly and efficiently assemble data from multiple sources across vast portfolios to make their appeals submissions.

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In this regard, the process requires pinpoint precision, and as the scale of some portfolios become so large, doing this manually with scattered systems and processes becomes untenable. This is the point where technological solutions need to be implemented to effectively create order out of chaos.  

itamlink, Property Tax Management Software

itamlink stands alone as the premier industry solution to infuse that necessary order and precision to the appeals process. It centralizes data, has embedded tools to give clarity on many property tax-related dimensions to the portfolio, and streamlines reporting. Effectively, it replaces all the disparate systems and processes used to manage this complex and critical corporate function. It’s a game changer and will fundamentally transform and streamline your approach to property tax management.

If you want to optimize your property tax appeals processes, learn more about itamlink by requesting a personalized demo

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© 2023 Rethink Solutions. All Rights Reserved