If you are a Hudson Valley homeowner, you may already be aware that the beginning of May holds importance when it comes to making sure your property taxes are being accurately calculated. In Ulster County, May 1st marks the general, official date in which tentative property assessment rolls are released to the public, showing your property’s most current assessment value and the value upon which your property taxes are to be based on. An inflated assessment could lead to an overpayment in taxes, something no homeowner wants to face. The good news is, when these tentative assessments are released, they aren’t set in stone, and if you think your assessment is too high, there is something you can do about it that could help to significantly lower your property taxes.
At the beginning of every May, your local assessor's office releases the “Assessment Roll” on behalf of the municipal government. This is a list of the assessed values of every home in the municipality and it is determined in a similar fashion as your real estate agent would determine the price of your home- through a comparative sales analysis. After all homes are assessed, the local assessor factors in the tax rate and from there, your property taxes are calculated. Being your home’s assessment value is one of the major components to compute your property taxes, it is important to verify that your assessment value actually matches what the value of your home is worth.
So what happens if the Assessment Roll shows an assessed value that is higher than the actual value of your home? Filing a tax grievance allows you to dispute the assessed value of your property and allows you to state your case to lower your assessment value and in turn, lower your proposed property taxes.
Ulster County, NY towns will be holding their Tax Grievance Day on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017.
Filing A Tax Grievance
If you believe that the assessment value of your home is higher than what the full market value of your home is, you have the option to file a tax grievance for administrative review from your local municipality. Filing a grievance can be as simple as filling out a couple of forms that support the point that your assessment is too high, but there is a deadline to submit these grievances for review (Tax Grievance Day, which generally is scheduled for the fourth Tuesday of May). This year, grievance day in Ulster County falls on May 23rd, 2017.
Here are the steps needed to file a tax grievance...
Check your home’s assessment in early May when your local municipality’s Assessment Roll is released. New rolls can be found in your assessor's office and some towns even publish them online.
We’ve compiled a list of all local assessor’s office websites below for you to get easy access to these Assessment rolls:
New Paltz: http://www.townofnewpaltz.org/assessor
Determine if your home was assessed accurately. To do this, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance gives guidelines and instructions on how to estimate the market value of your home, in the same way that an appraiser would do so.
If you’re being assessed at a value that you would be able to sell your home for in the current market, your assessment is fair. If your assessment value is greater than what current market value of your home is, or you would not be able to sell your home at that price in the current market, then a grievance should be submitted.
It will take a little bit of research, but homeowners should look for comparable homes and properties that are similar in age, style and size to their own home and see how the numbers compare. Various online websites will have sales data of like properties, and the assessments of like homes are also searchable through your local town assessor’s office or at the Ulster County building in uptown Kingston, NY. These records would then help to determine if your property is assessed at a higher price than those of similar homes in the neighborhood of your local town.
Alternatively, you can always seek the help of an independent appraisal company to assist in collecting and analyzing this information for you.
Be mindful of the deadline to submit your grievance- this year in Ulster County, all towns will be holding their Tax Grievance hearings on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017. If you’re planning on submitting a grievance, it needs to be received by the assessor no later than this date. After receiving your grievance, the assessor will schedule a review to determine your assessment. The reviews are conducted by a panel of 3-5 members appointed by the town board who are knowledgeable about real property in that municipality. While it is not necessary to attend, you can attend the hearing and present statements and more documentation to support your grievance.
How to Submit a Grievance
Submitting the grievance can be done easily and with as few as two forms...
- The RP-524 form is required to be filled out by New York State.
- The second form is a “Letter of Support” which essentially is a letter, written by you, explaining why the assessment roll shows an ‘unequal assessment’ value. In the letter of support, you would include associated documents to prove your proposition, including past sale market research and analysis, private assessments, and the assessment value you think your home should be lowered to.
After grievance day, the property owner will receive, in writing, the decision of the board on their assessment value appeal and by July 1st, the final assessment rolls will be published by the town.
(If a homeowner does still disagrees with their assessment after this point, they can pursue judicial review through a Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) hearing, which can be filed up until July 31st, or 30 days after the final assessment rolls are released.)
Dealing with taxes is not at the top of everyone’s mind, and certainly isn’t the most fun thing in the world to do, but it’s something that every Ulster County homeowner should be aware of. Make sure that you aren’t paying too much!