A lot of people think that the process of filing their property tax grievance is very difficult, yet that’s not true. All you have to do is research a bit about it, fill out a form and after that you just have to write a supporting letter. Once you take these steps, all you need to do is submit these papers by the deadline imposed by your municipality. Below we’ll tell you more about this process.
In some cases people believe that it’s their assessor who sets their property taxes, yet that’s not true. In fact, the role of the assessor is to determine your property’s market value by doing a comparable sales analysis similar to that of an appraiser or real estate agent when you plan to sell or buy a house.
Once the market value is determined, the assessor will calculate your assessed value by multiplying the value by a preset UPV that is set by your state. The purpose of the UPV is useful for the purpose of providing people a standardized assessment calculation that guarantees each property eventually receives a proper and equitable assessment. For instance, if your UPV is forty percent and your property’s market value is 500 thousand dollars, then your assessed value is 200 thousand dollars. If you have a neighbor and he has a property with a market value of 400 thousand dollars, then his assessed value will be 160 thousand dollars.
The Assessment Roll
Once the assessed value of all properties in a municipality has been determined, a roll will be published by the Assessors Office. This is practically a list that contains information about all the properties in the municipality (such as market value, assessed value, etc). In most municipalities, the roll is published in May (in the first week), ahead of the date the grievance applications are due. If you want to get the roll, you can go online or visit your local municipality. For links to your local roll publication, you may want to check www.randrealty.com.
The roll is very useful because once the property owners see their property’s assessed value (as calculated by the assessors), they can start preparing their grievances. Keep in mind that the roll doesn’t contain info about your property taxes, but only the property’s assessed value and its market value. These numbers will be used to calculate your taxes.
Researching Grounds for a Grievance
After the assessor has calculated your property’s market value, if you need to, then you can file a complaint about it. A property owner is able to make 4 separate claims for a grievance and this includes scenarios where his property has not been classified properly (for instance the property is residential, not commercial) or exempt from taxation (for instance, it’s a school or a church).
In general though, people will file grievances because their property is subject to an Unequal Assessment due to the fact that people in their area who own similar homes have received a lower assessment. As a result, their taxes will be lower.
An Unequal Assessment claim is basically a claim in which you argue that your property’s market value is higher than the value the assessor calculated. To prove your claim, you have to prove that your home’s market value is lower than that of what the assessor calculated. After reviewing your property’s market value you realize that your property’s value is lower than what the assessor calculated, then you have grounds to file a grievance petition.
Your municipality establishes the deadlines by which you can file a grievance petition, so be sure to abide by them. In most of the Hudson Valley this is called Grievance Day. On this day a BAR will meet to evaluate the grievance petitions. They’ll also hold an open hearing, meaning that you can present your case in front of them.
To grieve your property taxes, you just have to submit 2 documents when filing the petition. The first one is form RP-524 or the Complaint on Real Property Assessment.
The second file is the letter of support. There are no standards as to what the letter should contain, but you should address the BAR in it (for your particular municipality) and briefly explain why you believe your property has been over assessed. Along with the letter you can also attach supporting documents, including public records, a comparative market analysis from a real estate agent, an appraisal, etc.
In the petition you need to mention the relief you want. In this case, you want your property’s market value to the reduced to a level you’re happy with. Try to ask for as much relief as you think you deserve to get.
You don’t necessarily need to attend the Grievance Day hearing. Even if you’re absent, a swift decision will be taken by the BAR after they carefully read your petition.
If your grievance complaint isn’t successful, which is often the case, or it was, but you failed to get the relief you asked for, then this decision can be appealed in a Supreme Court trial or in what’s known as a SCAR(Small Claims Assessment Review).
As you can see, if you want to grieve your taxes, then the process is nowhere as difficult as you think. All you have to do is keep an eye on what’s happening in your local community, carefully review the assessment role and finally file your complaint and add any supporting documents along with it. All of this needs to be done by Grievance Day. If you don’t have the time to do this or maybe have other reasons for why you don’t want to personally consider it, then you may want to hire a property tax grievance company to do it on your behalf. Property tax firms that handle such cases usually charge anywhere between forty to fifty percent of the first year’s savings on your taxes. Also, bear in mind that they will only charge you the fee if they’re successful. If you’re not successful though, then you will still require a tax grievance firm to appeal the BAR decision.