Property tax grievance process
“My taxes are too high!!!!” This is often said by home owners in Orange, Rockland and Westchester Counties of New York. Once a year those home owners have the ability to grieve their property taxes. Most are not aware of the process or are afraid it might be too cumbersome, and they don’t do it. But grieving taxes is a free process that can only help; taxes cannot be raised as a result of a request. Below are more details regarding the methodology for asking for a tax assessment decrease.
Regardless of what town or village you live in, your property taxes are based on the town’s calculation of the assessed value of your property. The entire point of a tax grievance is to reduce your home’s assessed value. The town’s assessed value can be very different from what the market value is, as market value is constantly changing. When market value drops, assessed value typically does not. So you could be paying taxes on a high valuation. And that’s not good for your wallet!
Once a year, usually in the Spring, each town has a grievance process which is outlined on their web site. The home owner would need to complete some documentation and submit to the correct person in their town before the tax grievance date. In many areas, the documentation does not need to be personally reviewed at a meeting, as long as it is submitted correctly and completely. Following is an overview of what is required, as well as some sources of information for specific communities:
First, a home owner would need to complete the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s complaint of real property assessment, which is form RP-524 located here. The form requests the following data:
- Name, telephone number and address of owners.
- Property location, school district, property tax map number and current town assessment value.
- Property value information such as purchase price and date, any recent sale activity, appraisals and/or improvements.
- Reason for assessment request – unequal assessment, excessive assessment, unlawful assessment or misclassification. An unequal assessment might mean that your home uses a higher assessment ratio than other homes in that town. An excessive assessment is one where the assessed value is higher than the full value of the property. This would be the most likely option if grieving because taxes are too high. An unlawful assessment is either being assessed by the wrong town, being exempt due to non-profit status, or other reasons. A misclassification would be when a homestead property is designated as non-homestead, or visa versa.
If you are claiming that the current market value of your home is lower than the assessed value, you should also include either a recent industry-provided appraisal report, or a comparable market analysis from a realtor. While you will need to pay for a formal appraisal report, most real estate salespersons/brokers would be happy to provide an analysis to you, usually at no fee. The data would need to be valid as of that town’s valuation date. In our area, July 1st of the previous year is typically the valuation date. This means that any analysis for a tax grievance in 2018 must be based on sales and market activity from July 1, 2017.
Following are links to many of the town assessment websites in Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties. Please note that all of the towns in Orange and Rockland follow similar schedules with grievance dates on the 4th Tuesday of May, and grievance packages being accepted during May (up to the 4th Tuesday). Westchester grievance dates are typically the 3rd Tuesday in June. See below for more information for your particular area. Please note, not all Westchester locations are included. If you need to know about your specific location and it is not listed below, feel free to contact your real estate professional or search online for “[your town] tax grievance schedule”.
There is really no reason to NOT try to have your assessment corrected. There is no fee to request a review and the process really isn’t very difficult. Reach out to your real estate professional for help if you need it!
Here’s wishing you success with your tax reduction request!