Here’s a good joke: Sam walked in to a BAR hearing. Ouch.
But too bad for Sam and many others who’ve experienced that sometimes hearings before the BAR do hurt. We have heard that BARs should not totally “reappraise or revalue” grieved properties anew. Rather, the lone task of a BAR is to weigh the data provided by the assessor in support of the assessment against the data provided by the complainant that shows the assessment is excessive or unequal.
But the chips are stacked against the complainant. Heavily.
Most people may not know that assessors meet in private with the BAR ahead of the hearings to review what parcels are at issue and how the hearings will be conducted. During the hearing, the BAR and the assessor are not supposed to get into the “nitty gritty” of the complaints, but rest assured, many do. Most people also may not know that the assessment is afforded a “presumption of validity” – which means that the burden is on only the complainant to prove the assessor’s conclusion of value and/or assessment is wrong. The assessor need not defend that value or assessment, even at a BAR hearing. And, once the hearings have closed, the BAR may ask the assessor (but not the complaint) additional questions about the subject property.
At the end of the day, we all rely on the grievance procedure to be fair and unbiased. But in reality, the system – i.e., the Real Property Tax Law – is not free from undue influences. Only when we remove the specter of political and economic pressure from the job of the assessor and the BAR will we ever truly be able to take advantage of this administrative assessment remedy.