Ulster County Property Tax Info | How Not Knowing the True Numbers Can Hurt You
by Dylan Taft
on Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 12:05pm.
Ulster County Property Tax Info | How Not Knowing the True Numbers Can Hurt You
Not too long ago, property taxes were not a major concern when looking at Ulster County homes for sale. Property taxes rarely, if ever, got in the way of a sale when it came time to close. My how the times have changed! These days knowing the exact property taxes on a home for sale is a MUST. Otherwise buyers may be in for a big and possibly very costly surprise. With the date for tax grievances quickly approaching, we here at Taft
Street Realty thought it would be a good time to talk about property
taxes and how to obtain accurate tax information from your local municipality. In some cases if a buyer thinks the taxes are too high they may be able to get permission from the seller to grieve taxes on their behalf in an effort to make the home more affordable. Lowering the taxes can be the best (and sometimes the only) way a buyer can qualify to buy the home they love.
How To Gather Property Tax Info
Tax records are public information, but that does not mean they are always easy to find! Researching the tax information on a particular property tends to be more of a gathering of information from a variety of sources as opposed to a quick search of a main database. A home’s yearly property taxes are generally comprised of the town & county tax, and taxes from the local school district. Adding the town and school taxes will give you the home’s annual tax bill. Simple enough - but in order to obtain that information one has to do a little digging. Where do you start? Taft Street breaks down the process to help you better understand how a home buyer can verify the exact, up to date tax numbers.
Get the MLS Listing | But That's Just the 1st Step...
Say you’re interested in a home and would like to get an idea of its property taxes. If it happens to be for sale we encourage you to contact either your real estate agent to get the MLS Listing, or if you don’t have an agent, call the brokerage on the sign and ask that they send you the listing. The complete MLS listing will likely have many more details about the home that are not always found on a standard internet search done by a consumer - including tax information. So that’s it, you’re done right? Not exactly! Taft Street Realty recommends double checking that tax information – as it could be somewhat dated, or may reflect levies and/or exemptions that are no longer in effect.
Start Calling | But Have This Info Handy When You Do...
need to have certain information on hand when calling for tax records,
no matter if you're calling the Assessor's Office, the Town Clerk, tax collector, or
the school district. Each person may ask you for something different in
order to look up the information, so it's best to have everything ready
prior to calling. First you should have the address, though ironically
enough in our experience that tends to be the least likely item to be asked for. Another
crucial piece of info is the owner's last name. Where can you find it?
The MLS Listing we mentioned previously should contain the owner's last
name. That's why although the MLS listing should not be your final say
for information (especially taxes), it is still great to have handy for
these fine details. Finally, you'll more than likely be asked for the
"Section, Block, and Lot Number" also referred to as the "S.B.L. #". The
SBL # refers to the standardized recording system used by U.S. Counties
to map addresses and locations. Once again, the handy MLS listing should
have the SBL #, sometimes written individually like, "Section #",
"Block #", and "Lot #" (as it is in Ulster County MLS listings). Long story
short? Before you call anyone for tax information, make sure you have
these 3 items on hand: the address, the owner's last name, and the SBL#.
Find Out the Current Assessed Value
The bottom line is that taxes are based upon the (most current) assessed value of the home; not its asking price, last year's taxes, or what you think the value of the home might be. Usually the MLS listing will provide an assessed value of the property in its details, but Taft Street recommends confirming the most current assessed value with the town. Every town has an Assessor's Office so give the appropriate Assessor's office a call and ask them for the "current assessed value" of the home. How does the Assessor determine a home's value? What if you disagree with the current assessment? Check out this recent post of ours with more information on Ulster County homes' assessed values.
Local Ulster County Assessors Contact Numbers
Woodstock - (845) 679-2113 ext. 1
New Paltz - (845) 255-0103 ext. 3
Saugerties - (845) 246-2800 ext.'s 11
Marbletown - (845) 687-9523 ext. 107
Kingston - (845) 334-3910
Rochester - (845) 626-0920
Gardiner - (845) 255-9675 ext. 105
Lloyd - (845) 691-2197
Esopus - (845) 331-5546
Hurley - (845) 331-7474 ext. 5
Wawarsing - (845) 647-7800 ext. 241
Call For Town Taxes
To obtain the town and county taxes for a property you'll most likely need to speak to the Town Clerk. Some municipalities have an individual Tax Collector, and if so you should contact them first, but in most towns and villages, taxes are collected and recorded by the Town Clerk. Just be sure to have your 3 pieces of information on hand before you call (address, owner's last name, and SBL #), because you can never be sure what they'll ask for in order to look it up. Simple as that!
Here's a very helpful tip however: Be sure to ask a few questions like whether or not the taxes have been paid (don't be shy, this is all public record). You should also ask if the taxes that the clerk just quoted to you included any "exemptions" or "re-levies". (Oftentimes you'll have to request this specific information as opposed to it being automatically given to you) Why are you asking these questions? The current owner may have an exemption that you will not qualify for that makes their taxes cheaper. If so, you'll have to factor in what your predicted taxes will be without that exemption. If the taxes have not been paid let's say, you'll want to keep that in mind as a buyer when negotiating and factoring costs. If the tax bill sounds extremely high, there may be a re-levy on the property that consists of unpaid school taxes for example. So the tax bill is important but the questions you ask are just as, if not more, important!
Local Ulster County Town Clerk | Tax Collector Contact Numbers
On a local level here in Ulster County NY, the school taxes tend to make up the largest portion of a property's tax bill. Whether you have children or not, the school district that a property resides in can mean the difference of thousands of tax dollars per year. It's important for home buyers to be aware of the different school districts within Ulster County and how each can affect a home's tax bill.
Obtaining the school tax information on a home is very similar to obtaining the town tax information. Each of Ulster County's school districts has a tax collector whom you can contact to obtain that district's tax information. Just be sure to have your 3 crucial pieces of information before you call, and don't forget to ask the right questions! - Electronic Tax Info - More so than local municipalities, school districts have started digitizing their tax records so that they can be easily accessed online. Not every school district in Ulster County has made the transition to digital records (see which schools below) but it's likely only a matter of time.
Local School District Contact Numbers | Info
Ellenvile Central Schools Tax Collector - (845) 647-0120
Kingston School District Online Tax Info - https://www.municipaltaxpayments.com/index.cfm?rev=0000&fuseaction=status.disclaimer&CI=0&CL=11
New Paltz School District Online Tax Info - http://infotaxonline.com/
Rondout Valley Central Schools Tax Collector - (845) 687-2400 ext. 4813
Highland Central Schools - (845) 691-1000
Onteora Central Schools Tax Collector - (845) 657-8743
Saugerties Central Schools - (845) 246-2800 ext. 15
Town Taxes + School Taxes = Total Tax Bill
Congratulations! You now have all the information you need for a reliable and accurate picture of a property's tax bill. Now simply add the town taxes and the school taxes and that will give you a pretty good idea of the annual tax bill. Though the above may seem like alot of work for a simple equation, hopefully you can also see how important it is to have the current and accurate information when calculating property taxes. Outdated or incorrect numbers can give you wildly different results for a tax bill, and since it is a fixed annual cost, you want to make sure you've got it right! At Taft Street Realty we always go the extra mile to make sure every fine detail is correct and verified!
Like everything in our lives, Taft Street Realty believes that all of this information will eventually be digital and accessible via an online platform. School districts have already begun this inevitable transition. But until then, you still have to let your fingers do the walking when obtaining accurate and reliable property tax information for Ulster County. Or better yet? Work with a local Ulster County real estate expert like Dylan Taft who can navigate these fine details of a transaction for you, so you can focus on purchasing your Ulster County dream home!