NY Property Tax Reduction FAQs
Property Tax Assessment Basics
How Do I Know If My Property Taxes Are Too High?
- The real question is, are your property taxes higher than they should be? Your property taxes are based on the value of your home. What does your town or city think your home is worth? Divide your current assessment by the current Residential Assessment Ratio (RAR) for your municipality. This is what your municipality thinks your home is worth.
Is My Home Over-Assessed?
- Is the town's estimate of your home's value accurate? Have an appraisal done by a certified, licensed appraiser. If the appraiser's value is lower than the town's, you are over-assessed and paying more than your fair share!
My neighbor with a similar house pays lower property taxes than I do. Does this mean my taxes can be lowered?
- Just because your neighbor has a similar house and pays lower property taxes, it doesn't automatically mean your property taxes can be lowered. Your neighbor's property may be under-assessed, or your neighbor may have exemptions that you do not have, such as a veteran's exemption or senior STAR exemption.
Why should I challenge my assessment?
- If you think your property is worth less than your municipality's estimate of value, then you should challenge your assessment. Your assessment should be fair, meaning that it should reflect what your property is worth. If your assessment reflects a higher value for your home then it is unfair to you and you are paying more than your fair share of your community's tax burden.
Can I file a grievance myself?
- Absolutely. Many homeowners do fill out all of the paperwork and go to the hearings themselves. But it is a complex and detailed process. We have found that many homeowners are uncomfortable preparing their case for the Board of Assessment Review, and are even more uncomfortable negotiating with the assessor and presenting their case to the Hearing Officer at a Small Claims Assessment Review. This is not surprising since most homeowners do not have the knowledge base or experience of preparing and presenting cases of over assessment.
Can my assessment be increased if I challenge my assessment?
- No, your assessment CANNOT BE INCREASED as a result of your challenge. The Board of Assessment Review and the Small Claims Assessment Hearing Officer only have authority to review the evidence presented, and if warranted, lower your assessment. They cannot increase your assessment.
Is there any reason NOT to challenge my assessment?
- If you are over-assessed, then there is no reason NOT to challenge your assessment. New York State Law requires that all properties be assessed fairly. If you believe that your home is over-assessed, you have the legal right to challenge your assessment. Since your assessment cannot be raised as a result of the challenge, you have nothing to lose.
How often can I challenge my assessment?
- You can submit a complaint to the Board of Assessment Review every year, however if you are granted a reduction through the Small Claims Assessment Review appeal process, then you must wait one year before you are able to file a SCAR appeal again.
Will challenging my assessment affect my STAR tax reduction, or my veteran's exemption, or any other exemption that I have?
- No, challenging your property assessment will have no impact on those or any other exemptions.
The Property Tax Grievance Process
What are the steps for appealing my assessment?
- First you must collect evidence of over-assessment. Then submit a complaint to the Board of Assessment Review by the Grievance Day deadline along with your evidence. The Board of Assessment Review considers your case and makes a determination, usually within 3-4 months. If the Board agrees with you, your assessment is lowered and you are done. If they don't agree, maybe you get a small reduction or possibly none at all.
You can appeal the Board of Assessment Review's decision by filing a petition with the Small Claims Assessment Review. File copies of your paperwork with the assessor, clerk, school district and village, if applicable. Schedule a negotiation with the assessor prior to a formal court hearing. If you and the assessor can't agree on a reasonable value then you must schedule a hearing with a Small Claims Assessment Review hearing officer. You would then have to argue your case in front of the judge, providing evidence and further support that you are correct. The judge renders a final verdict within 30 days of the hearing.
What kind of evidence do I need to establish the market value of my home?
- The best form of evidence is an appraisal prepared by a certified, licensed real estate appraiser. An appraiser is an unbiased professional, bound by a code of ethics, who is in the business of valuing real estate. In some cases we may recommend that you have an appraisal of your home done to support our opinion of the market value of your home. In fact, many municipalities highly recommend (but don't require) a recent appraisal.
Can I use a recent appraisal from when I bought or refinanced my house to challenge my assessment?
- In some instances you can use a recent appraisal. For a successful tax assessment challenge, the appraisal needs to establish the market value of your property based on a specific point in time, known as the date of valuation. If you have an appraisal but the date on the report is not reasonably close to the date of valuation required by your town, then your chances of success could be limited.
Can I use a market analysis or comparable sales from a realtor?
- The assessor, the Board of Assessment Review and the Small Claims Assessment Review hearing officers generally do not consider this to be as reliable or thorough as the evidence we present. Also, comparable sales data without full analysis and support often lacks the detail and accuracy needed for a successful appeal. Our job is to get you the biggest reduction that you are entitled to which is very difficult with just 'comps' alone.
Can I challenge my past assessments?
- No, you cannot challenge past assessments. On Grievance Day and at Small Claims Assessment Review hearings you can appeal your current year assessment only. You cannot get a reduction for previous years.
Do I have to attend the hearings?
- You do not need to attend any hearings! Granite Tax Reduction Consultants will prepare all of the paperwork and attend all hearings on your behalf, fighting your case and putting our expertise to work for you.
What happens if my grievance is denied by the Board of Assessment Review?
- Unfortunately denials from the Board of Assessment Review are pretty typical. But don't worry; we will prepare and file all of the necessary paperwork needed for the next step, which is appealing to the Small Claims Assessment Review. This is all part of the service that we offer.
What is the timeline for challenging my property taxes?
- The property tax appeal process can take as little as two months, however the vast majority of cases are settled in 7 to 12 months.
What are Granite's fees, and how do you charge for your services?
We get paid only if we are successful in getting your assessment reduced. Our fee is 50% of the first year's tax savings for Westchester County properties; our fee is 60% for Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Dutchess County properties. For example, if we succeed in getting your assessment reduced so that you save $3,000 a year in property taxes, our fee would be 50% of $3,000 = $1,500. You would continue to save the full amount year after year after year.
Our fee is due within 30 days of receiving written notice that your assessment has been reduced.