Challenging Your Assessment
- Informal review
- Administrative review
- Judicial review
Your local assessor is an appointed official in your city or town who has the job of setting assessments on every parcel of real property within their municipality. The assessed value placed on your property is meant to represent the market value, or a percentage of market value, on your property. Not every municipality assesses property at 100% of market value. Some municipalities have a lower Level of Assessment (LOA) and assess properties at a fraction of market value. In either case, if you believe that your assessor's estimate of value on your home is incorrect, and you have evidence to support your claim, then your first step would be to meet with your assessor at any time before the filing of the tentative assessment roll on May 1st. The assessor is able to change assessments at any time before the tentative assessment roll has been filed. Once the tentative assessment roll has been filed on May 1st, you still have the ability to meet with the assessor and stipulate to a value up until Grievance Day (typically the fourth Tuesday in May).
It's important to note that the assessor only has control over the assessed value on your property and the law requires it to be their estimate of market value or a fraction thereof. Taxable values can only be lowered by granting exemptions and tax bill amounts are not within the control of your assessor. If you feel that your assessment accurately reflects the market value of your home, but that your tax burden is too high, you should address this with the jurisdictions that impose property taxes on your property (e.g. the county legislature, city council, town board, special district, or school district).
If you choose not to meet informally with your assessor, or you do not get the desired result at that stage of the process, your next step would be to meet with your local Board of Assessment Review in May. This board is a quasi-judicial body appointed by your city or town, generally made up of local residents with a background in real estate or knowledge of property values and they are trained to hear assessment grievance cases and determine whether to lower assessments. The board generally meets on the fourth Tuesday in May, but that date can vary by local law. You do not need an attorney or any legal counsel for this stage of review, but it is wise to have sufficient evidence to support your claim.
On July 1st, the final assessment roll is published that contains final assessed values that will be used for all upcoming tax levies. If you assessment was not lowered in May by the board of assessment review, your final step would be to pursue judicial review of your assessment. In order to pursue Judicial Review of your assessment, you must have gone through the administrative review process and met with the board of assessment review in May. There are two levels of judicial review available:
- Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR): an option available to most homeowners that own and occupy a one, two, or three-family residence used exclusively for residential purposes.
- Tax Certiorari proceedings in State Supreme Court: for all other property this is the only option for judicial review. To pursue this option you should contact an attorney.