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NYS Taxpayer Advocate Reminds Property Owners to Review Assessments During Grievance Period

While the property tax cap controls spending growth, taxpayers should be diligent to ensure their assessments are accurate

For Release: Immediate, Thursday, May 16, 2013

Contact: Geoffrey Gloak, 518-457-7377

New York State Taxpayer Rights Advocate Camille Siano Enders today encouraged homeowners, businesses and others who own property to review their assessments before the deadline, which is May 28 in most communities.

"In only two years, the property tax cap is controlling the growth of property taxes and shining unprecedented light on local budgets," said Ms. Siano Enders.  "By visiting your city or town's website and checking your assessment, you can make sure that you are not paying more than your fair share of local taxes."

Local assessment rolls, required to be available from local websites, list the property's estimated market value and property tax exemptions.  If the market value is significantly higher than the price for which the property could be sold, the property owner should consider the following steps:

  1. Talk with the assessor - Often, an informal discussion between a property owner and an assessor can be beneficial to both parties.
  2. File an assessment grievance - If an informal meeting doesn't result in relief, property owners can file for assessment review. The local board of assessment review will review and respond to the information provided.
  3. File for small claims assessment review - Available only to homeowners who don't receive relief through the formal grievance process. Cost is $30 and review will be conducted by a court-appointed hearing officer.

When requesting an assessment reduction, it is helpful for property owners to have an estimate of the market value of their home and documentation to support the decrease.  

Is your community keeping assessments up-to-date?

Reassessments enable cities and towns to ensure that assessments reflect current market values.  During a reassessment, all of the properties in the community are reviewed, and assessments are increased or decreased where appropriate.

"The longer it has been since your locality has done a reassessment, the more likely it is that your assessment no longer reflects the market value of your property," Ms. Siano Enders added.  "For each property that is under-assessed, there is another property that is paying more than its fair share of taxes."  

Some municipalities keep assessments up-to-date annually, while others haven't reassessed in decades.  

When properties do not reflect market value and are under-assessed, it does not mean the town, county or school district is collecting less in taxes.   Rather, the under-assessment shifts the tax burden to other properties that are over-assessed or assessed fairly. 

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Updated: July 10, 2013