As explained in the companion article, Should You Challenge Your Property Tax Assessment in New York, you may investigate your tax assessment and determine that the local assessor has placed too high a taxable value on your home. If that has happened, your property tax bill will be unfairly high. This article will describe how you may be able to lower that taxable value – and reap big tax savings.
To successfully challenge the taxable value, you’ll need to establish at least one of the following facts:
If you’re convinced that any of these facts is true, consider the following strategies for trying to get your taxable value reduced.
If you have convincing evidence that the assessor has overvalued your home, he or she may agree to change the value. If that happens, you won’t need to pursue an administrative appeal. You can get contact information for your local tax assessor and a variety of other useful information, at the Municipal Profiles section of the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services. Simply find your county on the map, and search for your city or town; then click on the relevant topic, such as Local Officials Addresses or Tax Rate and Levy Data.
Most assessors are hard-working officials who take pride in their work, and do their best to treat homeowners fairly. It’s best to phone ahead for an appointment with the assessor or an assistant. Before your meeting, make extra copies of your evidence, such as appraiser reports, related to the value of your home. When you meet, assume that the assessor is acting in good faith and is willing to consider your evidence. There’s no need for you to be argumentative or to complain about how property taxes have become burdensome. Just stick to evidence that warrants a lower taxable value for your home.
The assessor may change the taxable value on the spot but, more likely, will need a few days or weeks to look into the issue.
If you can’t reach agreement with the assessor, you can appeal the valuation of your home. Here's where to appeal and useful evidence for doing so.
Where to appeal depends on where your home is:
Call the assessor’s office for details on what paperwork you need to submit and the deadline for such submissions. There will be a hearing where your evidence will be considered.
In pursuing your appeal, several types of evidence may be useful, including:
At the hearing, you’ll probably have just five or ten minutes to present your case, so be succinct. Bring extra copies of your documentary evidence so that each hearing officer has a copy. Try to include a chart showing comparative sales prices and taxable values. You may want to arrive early so that you observe – and learn from – other people’s hearings.
If you don’t agree with the decision on your administrative appeal, you can go to court for a further review. In New York City, you must start your court case before October 25. In other New York locations, the deadline for going to court is 30 days after the tax roll is finally completed. You’ll probably need to hire a lawyer to advise or represent you if you plan to go to court. To find an experienced real estate lawyer in New York, check out Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.
There is a simplified procedure, however, if the taxable value of your home doesn’t exceed $450,000; in that case, you may prefer to handle the proceeding yourself.
For more information on tax appeals in New York, check out the “Contest your assessment” section of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance website. There you’ll find useful information on how to check the assessed value of your home, estimate the market value of your home, and the necessary grievance forms you need to file an appeal.