Surprise! Yeah, it’s grievance time for most towns and some cities in New York (May 28th is “the day”). Awhile ago we blogged about what to do about your assessment if you think it is unfair or excessive or you’ve been short-changed on an exemption. Now, here’s what not to do.
1. Don’t say that your assessment is too high because you can’t pay your taxes. That statement isn’t what assessing properties is all about. Assessments are about market value, not your tax burden. We know our tax burden is high in NY, but until someone has the will and the strength to change how we fund government programs in this state, your heavy tax burden is not going to be lightened solely by grieving your assessment.
2. Don’t grieve without proof. True, there is nothing in the law that requires property owners to submit one shred of evidence with a grievance complaint, but…give it the old college try. Take site photographs, submit a map or site plan, find comparable assessments and comparable sales. If you have a commercial property at issue, submit leases, rent rolls and income statements. If you have a recent sale, consider submitting the purchase contract.
3. Don’t accuse your assessor of being out to get you or of having a personal vendetta against you. Assessors aren’t out to get you – it’s your property they want (to value). Even if you have some beef with the assessment office in your area, these grievance review proceedings are not adversarial by their nature and design. Have a conversation, not a confrontation. (You know what they say about honey and vinegar and bees…).
4. Don’t wait until grievance day to talk to the assessor about your property. October is a good time. During this time of year, assessors are on their way back from their annual conference and are in a good mood and ready to talk about next year’s roll.
5. Don’t be ignorant of the key assessment dates – March 1 is the tax status date, when assessors determine the condition (ie, did you finish that basement?) and ownership (ie, are you eligible for an exemption?). July 1 of the preceding year is the valuation date (ie, when they look at sales of properties comparable to yours). Don’t value your property as of grievance day or the day you bought it.