Real Estate Tax Assessments

Real Estate Tax Assessment

Property Taxes and Assessments

Real estate assessments are used by municipalities to calculate property taxes. The assessed value of the property, which is determined by the assessor, is multiplied by the taxing jurisdiction’s tax rate to determine the tax due. Assessments are determined annually and can be grieved each year, but only at a particular time and only by following prescribed procedures.

Reasons to Appeal a Real Estate Tax Assessment

Owners and, in some cases, tenants of real estate located in New York State can contest the assessment on their property if they believe they have been unequally assessed, excessively assessed, unlawfully assessed, or the property has been misclassified. Each of these reasons is distinct:

  • An assessment is unequal if the property is assessed at a higher percentage of value than the average of all other parcels, or all other residential properties, on that year’s assessment roll.

  • An assessment is excessive if all property in the jurisdiction is assessed at 100% of market value but the taxpayer’s property is assessed at a value greater than full market value, or the taxpayer was wrongly denied a property tax exemption, or the tax exemption was incorrectly calculated.

  • An unlawful assessment occurs when a property which should be exempt from taxation is wrongfully taxed, or the property is located outside the boundaries of the taxing municipality, or the property was assessed by someone other than the assessor, or the assessment was entered or changed after the tentative assessment roll for the municipality was filed by the assessor.

  • A property tax assessment may be contested if the taxed parcel is misclassified by a municipality if it uses homestead and non-homestead tax rates.

Property Tax Assessment Review Procedure

A real estate tax assessment appeal, also known as a tax certiorari proceeding, must be begun in a timely manner. If the claim is not filed on time, relief will be denied. In communities outside the New York City metropolitan area, the day to grieve a property tax assessment is usually the fourth Tuesday in May. This said, the taxpayer should check with the assessor to make certain of the community’s filing date.

To challenge the assessment, the taxpayer must file a formal written complaint with the community’s board of assessment review. Proof of value is a key part of the claim. Formal proof usually consists of a professionally prepared real estate appraisal.

If the board of assessment review orders an assessment reduction, either after a hearing or based on a pre-hearing agreement between the property owner and the assessor, nothing further needs to be done by the taxpayer. If the board denies satisfactory relief, the taxpayer can undertake a further appeal.

Taxpayers who live in owner-occupied one, two or three dwelling unit properties, and owners of unimproved properties of certain sizes, can appeal the assessment review board’s decision by undertaking a Small Claims Assessment Review. These proceedings are informally run so homeowners can represent themselves. Owners of commercial and industrial properties, high value residences, and certain unimproved parcels, must appeal by means of a lawsuit undertaken pursuant to Article 7 of the Real Property Tax Law. Unless an exception applies, the person bringing an Article 7 needs to hire a lawyer because the proceeding has to be brought in the New York State Supreme Court.

Assessment Review Legal Services

Glens Falls tax certiorari lawyer Neil H. Lebowitz represents taxpayers and municipalities in assessment review proceedings. Services provided include:

  • Evaluating whether the property is excessively assessed or there exists some other basis for challenging the assessment

  • Negotiating a pre-Grievance Day settlement with the assessor in an informal proceeding

  • Representing the property owner in an appeal to the board of assessment review and in any further appeals

About Neil Lebowitz

Neil H. Lebowitz, Attorney at Law Neil Lebowitz has been practicing law for over 30 years. His early career took him to California, where he worked for law firms involved in business and commercial litigation and regulatory law.

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