Westchester Tax Grievances

Properties located in New York which are currently being over-assessed can have their taxes lowered by filing a Tax Grievance.  With the softening of the real estate market many properties’ assessments are higher than their respective market values.  When this case is present and by following the proper procedures, the real estate taxes paid on these properties can be reduced to the level that reflects their actual market values.  Westchester County is one of the highest taxed counties in the Country in terms of Real Estate Taxes.  Homeowners, or their designated representatives can file Tax Grievances to the governing bodies (usually the Tax Assessor’s office located in Town/City/Village Hall).

The process of Grieving your property’s taxes does vary between communities, but this process does have an overall consistency.

(1)  The first step is to determine if your property is actually being assessed correctly or not.  This can be done by checking on your property’s current assessment.  In most cases, the current assessment is not equal to the market value, as their is a ratio (Residential Assessment Ratio or RAR) that needs to be applied to the assessment to convert it to a market value (what your property would sell for).  Your property’s current assessment can be found on your most recent tax bill or by contacting your local Tax Assessor.  The Tax Assessor will also be able to provide you with the most recent RAR.  Many Tax Grievance Representatives/Consultants, like Domus Appraisals, will calculate your assessment to market value ratio by performing some preliminary research, typically at no cost.

(2)  Once your property’s assessment is determined & converted into a market value, the next stage is to have a Real Estate Appraisal performed on your property to determine the exact market value of your property.  It is extremely important to have a qualified Appraiser, who is licensed/certified within the State to complete this valuation.  In many cases, the appraisal may come under scrutiny & need to be reliable with supporting the derived value. Most Appraisals hold a fee which is collected at the inspection, so it beneficial to have an idea prior to ordering an appraisal whether or nor your property is possibly over-assessed.

(3) If the Appraisal shows that the market value of the property is lower than the full market Assessed Value, then most likely the property is being over-taxed. From this point, Formal Grievance forms should be filed within the Tax Assessor’s Office. The burden of proof is placed on the homeowner to show that their property is being over-assessed. Support must be submitted along with the necessary forms to successfully grieve your property’s Assessment. The most effective and accepted form of support is a Real Estate Appraisal, which hopefully you have already obtained. Tax Grievance deadlines are set typically once per year and differ between communities. You should check with your local Tax Assessor to find the designated deadline for your community.

This is a brief synopsis of the steps taken to submit a formal Tax Grievance. Unfortunately, the process does not always end here. Please look out for the follow-up posting of Grieving your Property’s Real Estate Taxes for a guide to the remainder of the process and other helpful hints for lowering your property’s Taxes.