How To Appeal A High Tax Assessment On A Home

Kyle Hiscock

Kyle Hiscock | Greater Rochester NY Real Estate | Pittsford NY Realtor at RE/MAX Realty Group

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Tips For Disputing High Property Taxes

How To Appeal A High Tax Assessment On A Home

How To Appeal A High Tax Assessment On A Home

Paying taxes is a tough pill to swallow.  Unless you want to get yourself in trouble, understanding that the federal government and your state is going to come for their taxes can make the pill less difficult to swallow.

It can be an extremely difficult pill to swallow for homeowners who are paying higher taxes than they should be or that they believe they should be.  The reality is that there are thousands of homeowners across the country that are paying higher taxes than they truly should be.

One topic that is always up for debate throughout the year relates to tax assessments.  Certainly homeowners who have tax assessments that are lower than what they should be don’t complain.  Those homeowners who have high tax assessments are frequently asking how to appeal a tax assessment on a home, which happens to be a FAQ from home sellers.

Below you will find some excellent information that discusses what a tax assessment is, how tax assessments affect homeowners, what affects a homes tax assessment, and also some excellent tips for disputing high tax assessments.

Jump To The Tips On How To Appeal A Tax Assessment On A Home

What Is A Tax Assessment?

Property taxes are a huge source of revenue for local and state governments.  A homes property taxes are based on the homes assessed value.  The higher the assessed value, the higher the taxes will be.

A tax assessment is usually made up by two components.  The first component of a tax assessment is the value of the land in which a home sits on.  The second component of a tax assessment is the value of the actual structure or home.  The value of the home is typically much more than the value of the land unless there is a significant amount of land.

It’s extremely important to understand when discussing a tax assessment or assessed value that you understand there is a major difference between assessed value and market value.  A homes tax assessment can be an accurate measure of what the home is worth if it were to be sold, but more commonly than not, a homes tax assessment has no correlation to market value.  Some homes are worth much less than the assessed value and others are worth much more.

When reviewing a tax assessment it is critical to understand if your local municipalities assessments are based on 100% market value or less.  For example, Webster NY tax assessments can be 100% of market value, 50% of market value, or any percentage, it depends on the individual property.

What Affects A Homes Property Tax Assessment?

Depending on your local municipality, tax assessments maybe reviewed and updated annually, bi-annually, or every four or five years.  It really depends on your local municipalities rules and regulations for tax assessments.

For example, the majority of Rochester real estate communities will reassess homes once every four years, whereas other parts of New York State will reassess annually or bi-annually.

There are many factors that can affect a homes tax assessment.  One of the biggest factors are improvements that are made to a home.  If an addition is built on a home and it adds additional square footage, it’s likely the assessed value of said home will increase due to the additional living space.

Other things that can affect a homes tax assessment include;

  • Adding a deck or patio
  • Improving a kitchen or bathroom
  • Building a shed or outbuilding


How Do Tax Assessments Affect Homeowners?

How Do High Tax Assessments Impact Homeowners - Complete Details Inside

How Do High Tax Assessments Impact Homeowners – Complete Details Inside

Tax assessments can have a huge impact on homeowners.  First and foremost, they impact the amount of taxes the homeowner is paying yearly on their property.  If a homeowners assessment is much higher than it should be, they are potentially paying thousands of dollars in taxes that they should not be paying.

Tax assessments can also have a significant impact on homeowners who are attempting to sell their home.  There are some buyers who are shopping for homes that will choose not to look at a home because the taxes are much higher than others in the same area.  If a home has higher taxes than it should, this is a great way to scare away potential buyers from the home.

Determine If It’s Worth Appealing Your Tax Assessment

One major consideration to make before beginning the tax assessment appeal process is deciding whether it’s worth your time and efforts.  There are several considerations that can help you come to this conclusion.

The first thing to consider when deciding is the amount you expect your tax assessment to be reduced by.  If you believe your tax assessment is only $2,000 or $3,000 high, it may not be worth your time and efforts appealing your assessment as the yearly savings are likely minimal.  If you believe your tax assessment is tens of thousands of dollars high, than certainly it is worth your time appealing your tax assessment.

Another great way to help determine if it’s worth appealing your tax assessment is to research the local real estate market.  Since tax assessments are based on market values, it’s important that if you believe other homes similar to yours are assessed for less that they are truly similar.

A home that has 300-400 fewer square feet is different as is a home that has 3 additional acres of a land.  It is very important that when determining whether appealing your tax assessment is worth it or not that you’re comparing apples to apples!

If you’re unsure whether appealing your tax assessment is worth it or not, another option is to have an appraisal done on your home.  An appraisal is a unbiased evaluation of a properties value and can be extremely helpful in determining whether your assessed value is high or not.  If an appraiser indicates that the market value of your home is $25,000 less than the assessed value, you will likely have a strong case and it absolutely is worth contesting your tax assessment.

Tips For Disputing Tax Assessments

Money Saving Tips For Appealing A High Tax Assessment

Money Saving Tips For Appealing A High Tax Assessment

If you believe that your tax assessment is too high on your home, it’s silly if you don’t attempt to appeal it.  Below are some of the best tips for appealing a tax assessment on a home.  By following the tips below, if your tax assessment is indeed high, you should be able to successfully be able to lower your tax assessment!

Meet With Your Local Assessors Office

If you believe the tax assessment of your home is too high, than the first step is to meet with the local assessors office.  In some municipalities, the assessors office will not schedule meetings but instead will require you to file a formal appeal also known as a grievance.

In New York State since almost all property is assessed locally by the municipalities assessor, it’s important that when attempting to challenge a high tax assessment you know when your local municipalities grievance day deadline is.  The tax grievance day deadline in Rochester NY in most communities is the fourth Tuesday in May.

The grievance day deadline is the last time that a formal request to lower a tax assessment is allowed to be received for that tax year.  Each municipality typically has a group of members who review each application.  The members may include real estate agents and of course, the assessor.

When filing a formal appeal with your local tax assessor, it’s vital that you have supporting information to show that your tax assessment is indeed high.  If you do not, it’s likely your request will be denied.  Strong supporting information to provide your local assessors office should absolutely include a handful of recently sold homes in your neighborhood that are similar to yours.  If the comparable homes are similar to yours and are selling for much less than your assessed value, providing this information greatly improves the chance that your assessed value will be lowered.

Depending on your local municipality, the time to review your appeal may take a couple weeks or potentially a month.  It’s possible that your request to reduce your tax assessment will be granted and you will not have to take any further steps.

Judicial Review

If your request to have your property taxes lowered by your local assessors office, depending on your location, the next step will be judicial review.  In New York State there are two levels of judicial review, the first being the small claims assessment review, also known as SCAR.

Small claims assessment review is a great low-cost option that is available to homeowners.  The cost for a homeowner who is appealing their tax assessment via SCAR will have a minimal cost of around $30.00.  The SCAR is comparable to the process of taking someone to small claims court where lawyers are rarely involved.

The second option for judicial review in New York State is a tax certiorari proceeding with the States Supreme Court.  If attempts to appeal a tax assessment are unsuccessful with the local assessors office and also the small claims assessment review and you must go this route, it’s highly recommended you contact an attorney.

Final Thoughts

Overpaying property taxes can be extremely frustrating.  If you believe that your tax assessment is too high, it’s important you understand how to appeal a tax assessment on a home.

As you can see above, the rules for each state and community can very significantly.  Generally, if you believe your property taxes are too high, the first step is to contact your local assessors office to find out more about the process.  If the proper tips for appealing high tax assessments are followed, you can successfully save yourself hundreds, potentially thousands of dollars per year!

Other Resources Relating To Tax Assessments

Are you wondering how to appeal property tax assessments in Rochester NY?  The above tips are certainly a great start to successfully accomplishing your goal of paying lower property taxes!  If you need assistance with challenging high property taxes on your Rochester NY home, contact me and I’d love to give you some tips and advice.

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About the authors: The above article “How To Appeal A High Tax Assessment On A Home” was provided by the Keith Hiscock Sold Team (Keith & Kyle Hiscock). With over 30 years combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.

We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.

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