The Art of Challenging Property Tax Assessments

Jul 3, 2024

The Art of Challenging Property Tax Assessments | Earmark Podcast




Josh Malancuk: [00:00:00] At the end of the day, we filed a protest. It took us about a year and a half to get, uh, about two years of protests resolved. And we took that assessment down from 25 million to $9 million, and it ended up saving the company. Um, over the years that we appealed, uh, seven digits.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:24] If you’d like to earn CPE credit for listening to this episode, visit Download the app, take a short quiz, and get your CPE certificate. Continuing education has never been so easy. And now on to the episode. Hi everyone and welcome back to earmark. I’m Blake Oliver and today we’re talking about property taxes. How to minimize them whether for your own firm or for your clients. We’re going to discuss mistakes to avoid and what it takes to build a winning appeal case. If you or your clients own commercial property, this is an episode you won’t want to miss. And joining me to talk about all of this is Josh Malancuk. Josh is the president and founder of JM Tax Advocates, a firm that specializes in helping businesses minimize their property tax liabilities. Josh, welcome to the show.

Josh Malancuk: [00:01:19] Thanks, Blake. It’s great to be here and I appreciate the opportunity to present to you and to your membership.

Blake Oliver: [00:01:25] So you’re the first CPA that I’ve met who specializes in property taxes. Interesting niche. Interesting specialty there. Why do you specialize in property taxes?

Josh Malancuk: [00:01:36] Well, so anyone that’s says that, you know, hey, I went to college to become a property tax expert is probably lying. Um, because we all have our own, you know, unique roads, uh, falling into this, uh, this unique niche. Right. And so, uh, there’s no colleges that, that teach property tax in school. Uh, and so it’s not, you know, part of the accounting curriculum. And yet, you know, it’s an area that is tremendously important to any property owner or business owner because it’s likely their number one or number two tax burden type. And so what you have is this huge defined need, you know, all of these property owners that need help or unlikely, they don’t know they need help, but they do. Uh, and yet there are so few specialists who can actually move the needle south with, uh, the property tax bills. And so the reason I like this area is because, uh, there’s never a dull moment. You know, any given day looks completely different from the next in, in that, uh, I may be involved with my team to help, um, manage compliance functions related to property tax or keeping the government accountable through a protest process. Um, maybe I’m out wandering, uh, and doing a survey to discover items with the property that may be wrong with the assessment record. And so, you know, we’re just constantly doing and seeing things and, you know, have had a lot of experience with some of the largest property tax owners in the United States and serving their best interests in this area. So, um, it’s very much value driven. Uh, most of the time we’re able to, um, achieve significant savings. And so it’s very much value added and savings cost driven to help, uh, keep the, uh, the profit and loss statement, uh, on the right side of, of, uh, of profitability.

Blake Oliver: [00:03:54] So you came out of the big firms, you were at CRO, you were at PwC and Deloitte. Were you doing property tax there?

Josh Malancuk: [00:04:04] So actually I was and when I first started out of school, I worked with another regional firm that you didn’t name in the audit function. And so after about two years, uh, it was kind of one of those board staff auditors that just needed something else to do other than audit financial statements from year to year. And so at the time, the firm that I worked for had just acquired a boutique consulting firm that that dealt with state taxes. They had a property tax group and needed some resources. And so, um, you know, meanwhile, I had built some experience with preparing personal property tax returns. And so I knew what property tax was. And I thought, well, what the heck, I’m probably going to be looking for a different job within a matter of months if I don’t try something new. And, uh, just kind of fell into the area, really enjoyed it. Uh, had a lot of responsibility early on with the, the team that I was working with and just really grabbed a hold of it in 28 years later. Um, I now own my own firm and, uh, you know, have been, uh, you know, really, uh, involved with some pretty amazing clients and, uh, have built significant credentials over that 28 year period to, to best serve our clients during, you know, these types of consulting engagements.

Blake Oliver: [00:05:31] So clients are overpaying on their property taxes. That’s the, uh, that’s the problem that we’re solving here. They are assessed. A value property tax is calculated based on that and correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like everything that you do boils down to. Fighting that assessment, right. Getting the valuation changed on that property so that it reduces the property tax. When we’re talking about specifically property tax, is that right? Do I have like the essence of it?

Josh Malancuk: [00:06:05] Well, it’s more it is that but it’s more along the lines of adding transparency to a miss, an often misunderstood area. And so most controllers or business owners don’t have the expertise or wherewithal to, to best evaluate their property tax assessments, to determine whether they should appeal the assessment, whether the assessment is fair or whether they’re undervalued, which can happen. Right. Um, and so you don’t want to just go into to a situation where you’re appealing or amending your value blindly because it can get you into trouble. Um, because sometimes we do find that the property tax assessment is undervalued, and you don’t want to kick the bear inadvertently and increase your taxes without having a seasoned navigator, you know, working with you. So, um, there’s just a very different process that we follow, um, by leveraging an appraisal tools that will help us kind of offer our best practice knowledge with their property type in any geographic area in the country that they have an operation, and bring a credible market analysis approach to properly evaluating their assessments. You see a lot of what we do. Blake involves almost like a mini appraisal, uh, of the business assets and most CPAs that I know are not appraisers, you know, that is part of my background. Um, besides being a CPA, I’m a certified general real estate appraiser. So somewhere along the way, I built the 3000 hours of experience required and created actually full blown narrative appraisal reports while working under a seasoned my appraiser to, to get my license to be able to practice with real estate appraisal. And that’s a very different, uh, credentialing and education path than, than most accountants have as part of, you know, going to school for their accounting degree or gaining experience with public accounting or maybe in private with, uh, with, with a company.

Blake Oliver: [00:08:28] So when I get that, um, assessment notice in the mail and I’m just thinking, you know, personally my own house. Right. I get that annual notice. Here’s your assessed value. And now here’s your property tax calculated based on that. Or maybe they send two different ones. Is it essentially the same for commercial properties where some government official. Assesses the value and increases that or not every year. And like I guess my other follow up question is if that’s the process, how do they do it?

Josh Malancuk: [00:09:05] Well. So most people don’t realize this, but you cannot appeal the property tax itself. Okay. The rate is what it is. The amount that you pay every year is what it is. The only thing that you can appeal is the assessed value. And so the only kind of, uh, basis for appealing that assessed value is if it’s incorrect. In other words, is the assessment, uh, over what the market value would be for your property type? And, you know, with certain property types, like a home, you’re going to have lots and lots of sales, probably sales right across the street with the broker signs that were hanging up, you know, three months ago. And so it’s relatively easy in most cases to predict what your home value should be on a per bedroom basis or per square foot, you know, depending on what the market is saying. Um, but it’s not so easy when you’re talking about a large industrial property like, let’s just say 1,000,000 square foot manufacturing property that’s in a small town where you’re lucky to see sales of any sorts within a three year period of time. And so, you know what? What’s important there is, is being able to kind of expand your scope and replicate what a typical market participant would look like, the same way that a home buyer would be for a neighborhood, you know, you’d be looking for a market participant and what their predictive behavior would be with the property.

Josh Malancuk: [00:10:35] That’s a certain size and type. Um, and it may be where you have to expand your search for transactions, um, into a regional approach or possibly national approach. In the case of, of 1,000,000 square foot facility, because you’d be having a national buyer, uh, potentially evaluating alternative sites and, and, uh, you know, looking at, uh, market pricing comparators, uh, between those sites. And so we have the ability to kind of, uh, replicate that, that behavior, um, through our comprehensive, uh, subscriptions and databases on, on a national basis. And most of the time, I would say 99% of the time your county and your state assessors do not have that same capability. Um, and so they’re kind of flying blind with their assessments, which is why, uh, with, with the property types that we deal with, namely the industrial, the senior care, the hotels and large commercial properties, we see about 80% of the time those properties are overvalued by 20%. And, uh, and so a very high propensity for appeals, uh, um, if the mark is it’s usually, uh, hundreds of thousands of dollars to maybe millions of dollars at stake, uh, with the annual property tax bill. And, and so, uh, and a lot of complexity with doing a correct market analysis to determine whether the, the property is fairly valued or undervalued or overvalued.

Blake Oliver: [00:12:09] Got it. So like with my house, there were four homes in my neighborhood that sold recently. So those are easy comps for the assessor. They can look at my house, they can look at those four houses, compare the square footage, compute an assessed value for my home or what they think it should be. But you’re talking about these big facilities, whether it’s a hotel or a senior care facility or a manufacturing facility, where in a in a city, in a smaller city, well, even a big city, there might not be that many exchanging hands. So it’s not like there is a market price for this sort of thing. And even if there is, maybe it’s not directly comparable. So the assessor has a really hard job to figure out what the value is, and they don’t. You’re saying they don’t have access to the same national data, the same ways of assessing these values. I’m going to guess they’re going to err on the side of going high rather than going low, right. Because their job is to essentially bring in revenue for the local government. So. And you’re saying could be as much as 20% off?

Josh Malancuk: [00:13:23] Well, it’s more like they go different. So what they’re left with is what’s called a mass appraisal model. And in many cases that’s based upon reproduction cost, new or construction cost trends in the area with very little, um, tools to properly apply depreciation to bring the cost down to a true market value. And so our tools allow us to really bridge that gap on the depreciation side through market analysis. And so that really helps us. So you mean better predict that that market value would be for that property type.

Blake Oliver: [00:14:05] So you’re saying, are you saying that they are looking at what it would cost to, like, build a new facility? So they’re not they’re not taking into account.

Josh Malancuk: [00:14:14] Exactly.

Blake Oliver: [00:14:15] Like the depreciation. Right. The wear and tear.

Josh Malancuk: [00:14:18] That’s right. Yeah. It kind of looks a lot like insurable value with not a whole lot of translation to depreciate. It cost new to get to market value. Right. So they start they start different. It could be high or it could be low. But it’s different. And it’s an easy modeling approach based upon square footage of um construction cost trends. But then the depreciation side is where the rail car goes off the tracks. Right. And so our job is to essentially translate the assessor’s mass appraisal conclusion with true market data sources to better predict what that market participant, willing buyer, willing seller would pay for that property as of the assessment date for each of the years that we’re evaluating for the assessment notice.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:19] So you’re coming up with a more accurate market value for these properties that is different than the assessed value. So to get that total tax bill down now you’ve got a um you’ve got an appeal. So what is that process like appealing a, uh, an assessed value.

Josh Malancuk: [00:15:43] Well. So whenever we get hired by a client, the first question that we want to answer as part of serving their interests is when do I need to file a protest to preserve my appeal rights? Um, to open the assessment for review, to provide market evidence and potentially change the value down to reality. Right. And the notice period looks very different depending on the state that you’re dealing with. Heck, even within the counties within a state. And so mapping that out is step one as part of an evaluation strategy and process for a property tax review. Um, very similar process for reviewing business personal property taxes, which is basically the tax that businesses pay in most states on their equipment and possibly on their inventory amounts that are reported each year. And that usually starts off with a rendition or a return. Um, so a self-assessment of their, their equipment. And then after that, uh, the assessor will come up with their value based upon the cost amounts that are reported by in service year. And so if that is incorrect, then they’re guaranteed to overpay, uh, you know, their property taxes for that year. And so, you know, that kind of becomes our job to evaluate whether the return reporting is correct or not, to possibly file amendments, um, or if the assessor does not apply a correct depreciation multiplier to the cost new, then then we’ll appeal that as well.

Josh Malancuk: [00:17:25] Um, and so we’re just lending that accountability and scrutiny to make sure that our client is not left overpaying at the end of the day with their, uh, with their business, property taxes and on the real estate, very similar. You know, we map out the appeal deadline, uh, we figure out when that is, uh, we get a power of attorney that allows us to file a protest in our client’s behalf, and then we meet the protest deadline, provide support, possibly go to a county and or state level hearing, um, to present our case as to why the original assessment was incorrect. And then at the end of the day, we typically are able to achieve significant savings, uh, that corrects the assessment and leaves our client, uh, in a position that was much better than they were at to begin with. Um, as part of leveraging an experienced navigator to bring transparency to this often misunderstood area.

Blake Oliver: [00:18:28] And how long do you have after you get that notice in general to do to make this appeal? I assume it I mean, I know I imagine it’s different everywhere, but is there like a rule of thumb?

Josh Malancuk: [00:18:42] So each jurisdiction is going to have its own period to appeal the property assessment. So, you know, once you get the notice, the appeal deadline can literally be as short as ten days or as long, typically a 30 day process, or there may be no notice at all. And there’s just a set period every year that you have to appeal. And so, um, you know, it’s important to know the state. It’s important to know the county within the state and the kind of map that into your process so that you are properly managing the property tax assessments, uh, to evaluate an exact relief on a year by year basis. But most of the deadline periods, Blake, in case you’re wondering, uh, fall right around the second quarter of the year. So right now we’re kind of in the thick of things with most of the protest deadlines falling this month and next. Um, for about, I would say 75% of the jurisdictions, some are earlier than, than this month. So, you know, anyone that missed the deadline last month? Well, they’re going to overpay for a year, unfortunately. Uh, but they can still get ahead in next year. Um, but in some cases, the, uh, the protest window falls kind of more in the fall time period. So, um, so again, that’s why it’s so important to answer that question upfront. When do I need to appeal, um, and to make sure you’re calendaring your, uh, your deadlines appropriately.

Blake Oliver: [00:20:16] And is it sounds like it’s mostly a go forward kind of change in general. I’m not going to get refunds for property tax I overpaid in the past. Or can you can you go back and get some money back.

Josh Malancuk: [00:20:30] Yes. So like it really depends. So um, with the personal property, in some cases there’s, uh, a statute of limitations that allow you to provide amended return support for prior year relief and then going forward, um, in other jurisdictions, it’s a notice process where if you miss the deadline, then you’re overpaying and then you you’re forward thinking, uh, you know, type approach with the real estate, it’s almost always a current year. You either meet that appeal period or you’re, uh, uh, you’re going forward into the following year to, to exact relief. Um, but in some cases, the jurisdictions are, uh, late in the game with sending their notices. And so, you know, you can still appeal last year’s value. So that’s why it’s important to kind of map all of this out, to know the jurisdiction, to know the protest rules, and to know where the jurisdiction is at with their reassessment process, so that you can put the best strategy forward, uh, you know, for the company.

Blake Oliver: [00:21:36] What’s it like making one of these appeals? Is it like going to court?

Josh Malancuk: [00:21:41] Well, there’s never a dull moment. And I would say there’s really not a typical road. Um, and so a lot of times these appeals end up getting filed. Evidence is provided. And then there’s some informal discussion and negotiation to resolve the appeal. And that’s probably at least 60 to 70% of the time. Uh, you can informally resolve the appeal once you properly built your support. Right. And in the other cases, you’re going to a county board level, and the county board is still kind of informal. Uh, and you can present your evidence. There’s back and forth. And once that county board decides you have the ability to appeal to the next level, which may be a state administrative board, or it may be you’re litigating in district court at that point, you need a lawyer to represent the company. And so usually the state level or subsequent level appeals look a lot more formal. Uh, there’s discovery rules that are involved. And you have to really understand the administrative, uh, procedural rules to practice with that state body so that you don’t inadvertently stub your toe and then have your appeal disqualified. And so, um, you know, that that is a very specific process. And, you know, as a company owner, if you’re trying to take that on without that experience, uh, you’re likely going to disqualify the company for relief just because you inadvertently didn’t respond appropriately or fully as part of the procedural rule requirements for that, that state level appeal. So that one does kind of look like, uh, like practice of law.

Blake Oliver: [00:23:36] So let’s, uh, let’s assume we’re going through this. Right? So, so let’s, let’s assume that we manage to stay out of court and we’re doing this more informal process. And. My question is what? What does this case that you build look like? Is it a report you put together? Is it you have to go and provide testimony? How does it like what is what is the what is the deliverable?

Josh Malancuk: [00:24:04] Well. So it’s going to depend on the property type that we’re reviewing, right? Um, you know, because in some cases we’re solely focused on transactional information. So what were sale prices, uh, for, for this property type doing on a per foot basis? Um, or maybe we’re, uh, primarily focused on the income approach where we’re looking at, you know, market, uh, leases and market expenses and market cap rates to come up with a value. And, and so that analysis can look vastly different depending on whether we’re looking at, uh, an industrial property, an income producing, uh, commercial property, like an assisted living facility or an apartment or a hotel. That’s for rent, right? Um, or if we’re looking at, uh, a large commercial property that would generally transact as, as an owner occupied property, such as a large office headquarters. And so, um, depending on, on what we’re looking at, uh, there may be, uh, a lot of reliance on one of the three approaches between cost income or the sales comparison approach. But so, you know, long story short, is once we figured out the best approach, we build our market data and, um, kind of bring that into an organized message to the assessor to basically support our contention that the market value is different than their assessment.

Blake Oliver: [00:25:41] And these, um, these reports that you’re building these. I think you said mini valuations. Are they created individually for each client, or do you have like a technology tool that helps you automate the generation of these different valuations, the different methods, that sort of thing? I’m not sure I’m explaining it right. So I guess, you know, is it is it like you handcraft each one or have you figured out how to how to automate this? To some extent.

Josh Malancuk: [00:26:11] There’s no automation at all. It’s all customized on a property by property basis. And I think that’s what gets the assessors into trouble with their valuation differences is they use kind of a one size fits all mass appraisal model that they roll out across maybe tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of parcels in their jurisdiction or more. And it’s a one size fits all type model, and that’s why there’s so many errors. Whereas our approach, you know, we look property by property. We look at the specific age, the size, the type of property, the use, the land size. We look at, um, you know, other similar properties in the area and we pull in only data that correlates to, um, comparable property, not just a generic trend of. This value per foot across every age property type. Now we’re looking at a specific age bracket size bracket. Use bracket. Land size bracket. It’s all very much individually customized. And that’s so important. And that’s where we find our mistakes. You know with the original assessment. Same is true on the personal property. You know. And so what more often than not happens is the company controller or CFO or someone that has an accounting background, maybe even their CPA firm will create a return. They’ll assume everything is kind of a same as last year position with very little review process whatsoever.

Josh Malancuk: [00:27:47] And then we’ll find all kinds of mistakes, you know, and uh, and you know, certain areas like is the right category being applied, you know, on the return, are there breaks that that could be pursued? Are there exemptions that could be pursued? Um, are all the assets even there anymore? You know, I mean, there’s a lot that goes into our review that, you know, that that just wouldn’t go into a review process at all with the return. And so, you know, the important thing to realize in the business, personal property and to a certain extent, real estate is that if there’s an error, because of the requirement to report every single year, you know, if you have business presence in a jurisdiction, if there’s an error, it’s going to perpetuate every year until you fix it. Right? Right. And so that $50,000 mistake in one year, you know, you might not feel it, but ten years later you’ve got half $1 million lost down the toilet because you haven’t scrutinized the property tax bill to make sure you’re not overpaying your bill. And so that’s what’s so powerful about reviewing the property tax is once we fix an issue, there’s typically a gift that keeps giving with a long term annuity that can really make a big difference to any company these days.

Blake Oliver: [00:29:06] So make this real for me. Walk me through a. Case that you have built, you know, and taken to appeal and gotten the gotten the property tax assessment down and saved a client a lot of money. What do you have a favorite story? Case study.

Speaker3: [00:29:29] So, um.

Josh Malancuk: [00:29:32] I’ll just bring to light to the group, uh, a client that is a mega food processor, right? And the food processor was being assessed at around $25 million for the real estate assessment. And, uh, very little questioning was just pay the bill. No more questioning beyond that. Right. And so the taxes from that $25 million assessment were around. There were around $1 million a year. Right.

Speaker3: [00:30:06] Okay, so.

Josh Malancuk: [00:30:07] That’s a lot. What our team did, uh, is we dug into the assessment record. And keep in mind, this was a property that literally dealt back to the early 1900s with construction, with many, many, many, many additions over time. Right? So very large, over 1,000,000ft², you know, built, you know, almost in caveman days. It was prehistoric, old, practically, and a lot of functional problems with the facility. Um, what our review uncovered, because we went through every single building, we went through the construction history with, with blueprints. We toured the site. Heck, I spent about a month. I’m not kidding you. I was in I spent a month hiking around this manufacturing plant, just discovering all of the nuances and all of the ages and the sizes and ceiling heights and the like. And so what we did is we built this survey that was far more accurate than the assessment record. And in fact, we found entire sections of buildings that had been demolished that were still being assessed. We found ages that were incorrect. We found functional problems with the facility. And so the depreciation amounts were grossly undervalued. And so at the end of the day, we filed a protest. It took us about a year and a half to get, uh, about two years of protest resolved. And we took that assessment down from 25 million to $9 million. And it ended up saving the company. Um, over the years that we appealed, uh, seven digits. And that assessment has continued to perpetuate since that time. And so the, the true benefit, uh, from way back when I appealed it to now is probably close to eight digits.

Blake Oliver: [00:32:05] That’s amazing. What a great. So, so. You actually had to go on site for a whole month and walk around and you’re looking at all these buildings, some that are more than 100 years old, and you actually found there were buildings that were on the property tax assessment that didn’t even exist anymore.

Josh Malancuk: [00:32:26] That is correct, Blake.

Blake Oliver: [00:32:29] Wow. So I imagine that the owners were pretty grateful to you after you accomplished this for them. I mean, because you’re saving them. I mean, if it was $1 million on 25 million assessed and you took it down to 9 million assessed, that’s like a, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Speaker3: [00:32:50] Yeah.

Josh Malancuk: [00:32:50] And so what, what they ended up doing is, uh, once we got done with the one site, they gave us a whole state, you know, which probably added about 30 more sites to the fold. And so we were able to kind of rinse and repeat a few more times, you know, because of the great job that my team did with, uh, with this one, uh, site that we reviewed.

Blake Oliver: [00:33:13] You said it was a food processor. Were you, like, walking around with the, you know, the special garb you got to wear, like the clean, you know, the hair net and all that?

Speaker3: [00:33:21] Oh, yeah.

Josh Malancuk: [00:33:22] I had the construction hat on and the safety glasses and the, the brightly colored vests. So none of the forklifts ran me over. At least if they did, they knew who they were hitting and just, you know, all kinds of garb.

Blake Oliver: [00:33:40] Is that something you do regularly still, or was that like this one client was a special case.

Josh Malancuk: [00:33:45] It’s very common in a manufacturing environment to have to wear what’s called PPE gear to for safety requirements. And so, you know, that is something that is somewhat unique when you’re looking at that property type is, you know, you’re wandering around a pretty dangerous environment, right? Yeah. And so you have to be aware of where you’re at. You have to follow a tour guide. A lot of times you have to take safety training, you know, before you even are able to qualify to hike around a facility like that. And so, um, you just have to be careful. I mean, because, you know, you can get injured just like anyone else that works there on a regular basis. And so you just have to be mindful of where you’re at and what you’re doing and, and pay attention.

Blake Oliver: [00:34:34] That, uh, that brings to mind my own experience in public accounting. I was a I was a manager at a big firm, and one of my favorite experiences was touring the client facility. They made latex mattresses, those foam mattresses, and they, they, they would make them. And then they had this giant hydraulic press that would squeeze them down to, like, you know, less than a centimeter, and then they’d roll them up and put them in a box. And it was so fun. After sitting at my desk, you know, for months and months, getting out and finally meeting this client and getting to see how they actually made this product, I think that’s one of the neat things about accounting that people don’t think about is that if you work with manufacturers or. Anything. Anything where, where stuff is made. If you’re lucky, you know, if you got the right role, you get to go on site and see it happen. And, um, that’s a lot of fun anyway.

Josh Malancuk: [00:35:33] But it is always great to learn about any particular industry because, you know, first of all, it’s part of your education. You know, it’s there’s always something to learn about, you know, different business types. And, um, at some point when you see enough of them, you start to see trends and that helps you be more effective with the next one. And so, you know, over time, you really become an industry expert, uh, of that property type, but also you become aware of industry trends. And, um, it just helps you be more effective with, with building your case for, for your client. Um, so, you know, I agree, it’s probably one of the more fascinating parts of our jobs here at JM tax is, um, really getting familiar with our client and their business and their business challenges. Um, and really getting into the weeds of, of what’s important to them and, and what is happening from a trend perspective so that we can bring that into our messaging to tell their case when we’re arguing for property tax relief.

Blake Oliver: [00:36:44] So how do you get your clients, do they find you directly. Do you do you do the are they referrals from other CPA firms like how did you build your practice.

Josh Malancuk: [00:36:56] So most of our clients come to us through referrals. Um, you know, we uh, we kind of work on a relationship standpoint with other synergistic, synergistic organizations that, you know, have clients that are in the industries that that we want to work in. Um, in other cases, we have strategic alliances with trade associations, like we have several strategic relationships with manufacturing associations on a state by state basis. Uh, in other cases, um, there’s MEPs, organizations that uh, partner with, with manufacturers, uh, with senior care. We’re part of some trade associations as well. And so, you know, that helps. But also getting out and talking with CPA societies on a state by state basis has been a great tool to grow our partnerships with CPA firms because most of the time they don’t have a property tax group in-house. And if they hear of a client need, they’re going to need to reach out to somebody that that that’s a trusted partner. And so we like to position ourselves to work with CPA firms in that capacity.

Blake Oliver: [00:38:11] So I have a client that I think might be overpaying on their property tax. How do I work with you? Do you have a relationship? Do I do I make a referral of the client to you? Can I white label your services? How does it work?

Josh Malancuk: [00:38:27] Well so we first of all we don’t white label. Um, you know, our reputation in the marketplace as an advocate is as of J.M., tax advocates. So all of my state credentials, um, are in my company’s name. And so any letter of authorization would need to be under our clients, under our name. Right. Um, but then secondly, as far as how we work, um, yes, it’s, it’s on a referral basis. And, you know, so we work with and through that referral partner, um, to communicate with the client, um, we like to have direct client contact because that’s absolutely essential with our discovery work. Um, but you know, we, we work through and with, in partnership with, with referral partners and, um, kind of put our best foot forward by serving that client and really help that that referral partner look smart for bringing us in to begin with. And so, um, you know, that’s just kind of how we work. But, you know, the other thing that’s, that’s important to understand is, um, if someone is interested in having their client evaluated for property tax relief, you know, our initial evaluation can be done without, uh, any dialog with the company whatsoever. In other words, public records are easy to come by with property taxes. And so if someone says, hey, I’ve got a client, here’s their address, here’s what they do. Um, you know, we can take that information and pull their assessments and figure out how much they’re paying in property taxes for business, personal and real estate when their appeal deadlines are coming up, whether they look to be overvalued and what kind of potential savings might be had if they hire us as an experienced navigator to start a review process. And so, um, you know, it’s nice to be able to provide some value up front as part of an initial meeting, um, to, to kind of prompt, uh, moving forward together with a service opportunity.

Blake Oliver: [00:40:36] If someone’s listening and they have a referral for you, what’s the best way for them to make that?

Josh Malancuk: [00:40:42] Yeah. So the easiest way is to reach out to me at JM Tax Advocates comm. Uh, Joshua at JM Tax advocates comm is my email. Um, or you can just give me a call at (317) 674-8390. And I’m at extension 100. Uh, either one of those will get my attention. Uh, but if you forget my email, just go onto our company website JM tax advocates comm under contact us and you can reach out that way and it’ll make it back into my email inbox.

Blake Oliver: [00:41:16] All right, Josh, one more question for you. We have a number of young accountants in their first few years in public accounting that listen to our show. We have students that listen to our show and let’s say they are interested in property tax. Like this is something that they want to specialize in. What advice do you have for young accountants who want to get into this line of work?

Speaker3: [00:41:43] Yeah.

Josh Malancuk: [00:41:43] So, you know, if this sounds like an interesting field, um, what I would encourage you to do is, is reach out to organizations such as JM, tax advocates, uh, for, for internship opportunities to, to kind of give it a shot and see if you enjoy the field. Um, I know we constantly have a rotating internship program with our company, and we certainly value the contributions of interns. Um, and so it’s a great way to kind of get to know the field and, and contribute and get some work experience, uh, that that can really translate into to rounding out your career because, you know, most of the time folks have zero experience with property taxes. And so even getting a semester of it, so to speak, uh, is really going to be helpful for you as part of rounding out your long term career, because chances are you’re going to have to deal with property taxes in one way, shape, form or another. And, uh, the sooner you get familiar with how to deal with it and evaluate it, uh, is only going to serve your career best.

Blake Oliver: [00:42:49] Josh Malancuk, thanks so much for joining us and sharing your insights today.

Josh Malancuk: [00:42:53] Yep. Thanks again for the opportunity, Blake. I enjoyed the conversation. And, uh, what I would say to everyone that’s listening is feel free to reach out. We’re here to help and definitely value, uh, you know, any, uh, any service inquiries and, and, uh, you know, I appreciate your time today and certainly wish everyone well and, uh, a great rest of the year.

Blake Oliver: [00:43:18] Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode and that you learned something new. And if you did, wouldn’t it be nice to get some CPE credit for it? Well, I’ve got great news. My new app, earmark CPE, offers free Naspa approved CPE credits for listening to podcasts, including this one. Visit to download the app, take a short quiz, and get your CPE certificate. That’s



Josh Malancuk, CPA, CMI

Josh is the Founder of JM Tax Advocates, which helps clients minimize business property tax burdens. With a laser-focused passion for real and private property tax appeal advocacy and an impressive record of accomplishment in economic incentive procurement and audits, Josh is the go-to expert for businesses seeking significant property tax cost reduction opportunities.

Josh’s specialties include real estate appraisal, property tax compliance planning, and property tax compliance control evaluation. His deep expertise has been instrumental in guiding businesses through the complexities of property tax accrual reviews, planned value estimates, and fixed asset planning to reduce the overall property tax burden.

The guest studied Accounting at Indiana University Bloomington.

 Contact Josh Malancuk at or (317) 674-8390 ext. 100.


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