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Department of Taxation and Finance

Volume 11 - Opinions of Counsel SBRPS No. 27

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessment disclosure (meetings) (scheduling) - Real Property Tax Law, § 511:

Taxpayer meetings with the assessor and/or revaluation contractor to discuss preliminary assessments must be completed before the tentative assessment roll is filed.

We have received an inquiry concerning the assessment disclosure process (Real Property Tax Law, § 511). A contractor assisting a town in a reassessment project (per RPTL, § 572) plans to conduct “informal hearings” from May 6 through May 17 and intends to advise taxpayers of changes by May 21.

Assuming that the town in question follows the assessment calendar set forth in the Real Property Tax Law, it appears that the contractor's planned actions are untimely. Where a town conducts a “revaluation” or “update” of assessments, {1} assessment disclosure notices, which advise taxpayers of their preliminary assessments, must be mailed to property owners not later than 60 days prior to the date set by law for the filing of the tentative assessment roll (RPTL, § 511(1)), which is May 1 in most jurisdictions (RPTL, § 506(1)). Consequently, assessment disclosure notices generally must be mailed not later than March 1.

An important part of the assessment disclosure process of a revaluation program is the taxpayer's opportunity to meet with the assessor and/or the revaluation company to discuss the project as it relates to the preliminary assessment of the taxpayer’s property. The law provides that: “Subsequent to the mailing of the [assessment disclosure] notice . . . the assessor and representatives of any independent contractors employed in the revaluation program [are to be] available to provide explanations of the program, including consideration of objections or complaints . . .” (RPTL, § 511(3)). {2}  Thereafter, “if the assessed value of any property on the tentative assessment roll is different from the preliminary determination of assessed value set forth on the assessment disclosure notice . . . the assessor [not later than 10 days preceding grievance day] shall mail a notice to the owner of such property stating the preliminary determination of assessed valuation on the assessment disclosure notice and the assessment set forth on the tentative assessment roll [and advising of the owner's rights to administrative assessment review]” (RPTL, § 511(4)).

It seems quite clear then that the assessor/contractor meetings to discuss preliminary assessments must be completed before the tentative assessment roll is filed. Thereafter, changes to that roll may be made only as authorized by the board of assessment review or the State Board [for special franchise assessments](see, RPTL, § 514).

June 5, 2002

{1}  Defined in RPTL, sec. 102(12-a), to mean “a systematic review of the assessments of all locally assessed properties . . . to attain compliance with the standard of assessment [in RPTL, § 305].”

{2}  These meetings are sometimes referred to as “informal hearings,” a phrase which should be avoided as “hearing” has connotations of a formal judicial or quasi-judicial process not applicable to such meetings.