Volume 8 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 11
Board of assessment review (powers and duties) (demanding attendance) - Real Property Tax Law, § 525:
A board of assessment review may only request a personal appearance by a complainant where the board is unable to determine the fairness of the assessment from the proof submitted.
A town’s Board of Assessment Review asks whether it may send a letter to all complainants who mail in their assessment complaints, directing them to appear before the Board on a specified date “to review the facts” in each case. The Board also proposes to advise the complainant that failure to appear or to send a representative will result in denial of the complaint, and will bar the complainant from seeking judicial review under Article 7 of the Real Property Tax Law.
Section 525(2) of the Real Property Tax Law provides that if a board of assessment review is not satisfied, from the proof submitted, that a particular assessment is excessive, unequal or unlawful:
the board may require the person whose real property is assessed, or his agent or representative, or any other person, to appear before the board and be examined concerning such complaint, and to produce any papers relating to such assessment. If the person whose real property is assessed, or his agent or representative, shall willfully neglect or refuse to attend and be so examined, or to answer any question put to him relevant to the complaint or assessment, such person shall not be entitled to any reduction of the assessment subject to the complaint.
Thus, a board of assessment review is clearly authorized to request additional proof where it is not satisfied from the proof presented that a reduced assessment is warranted (see, Jakubovitz v. Dworschak, 67 A.D.2d 977, 413 N.Y.S.2d 444 (2d Dept. 1979)). This does not mean, however, that a board may require a personal appearance by a complainant in each case. Rather, the entire board of assessment review should review each complaint submitted to it, and a majority of the board may then decide if additional testimony and proof is necessary. Naturally, in many cases, the board is likely to conclude that the complaint is sufficient on its face to determine whether a reduction is warranted.
March 13, 1984