When we compare the average property tax of different states across the USA, the State of New York stands out among the top tier of those who pay the most in property taxes. Among the many different counties of New York, Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island have some of the highest property tax rates (both over 2%). Why is it that Long Island has some of the highest property tax rates in one of the highest states for property taxes in the USA? The answer is a little complicated. To help you understand, we have broken down the major factors that contribute to this below.
Property Values Are Higher
The median price of homes in Long Island is about $500,000. In comparison, the median price of homes across the USA is about $250,000. This means that property values in Long Island are more than twice the national average. For this reason, those who live here will naturally have higher property assessment rates. Remember that Long Islanders also have higher average property tax rates than most of New York State and the United States.
High Property Taxes for Public Education
More than 60% of the property taxes collected by Long Island are distributed among the 125 public school districts across Long Island. Sadly, these taxes are disproportionately distributed to rich neighborhoods and for paying exorbitant salaries for administrative officials for these school districts.
Unique Assessment Formulas
Long Island has a unique formula for property tax assessment that is difficult for the average homeowner to understand. Handling Long Island property tax grievances, for example, is often out of the expertise and/or knowledge of most homeowners. In addition, the formulas often work against middle-class homeowners since they don’t account for the growing costs of living in Long Island.
Public Employees (Current & Former) Receive a Lot
One of the beautiful things about taxes is that we can all pitch in and pay a fair share to finance public services that we almost all use and take advantage of such as public education, fire services, sewage, and police services. However, we might need to reconsider how much we pay public employees. There are various school superintendents and police officers across Long Island comfortably making more than 6 figures each year from property taxes paid by Long Island property owners.
Unnecessary Expenses in Public Services
Given the high amount that we pay for public services, it is fair to argue that we are perhaps paying too much. Accordingly, various public services are being overfunded. There are even instances where Suffolk County has had to borrow money, such as $60 million in 2016 to pay pensions for retired police. It has been reported, for example, that over 235 retired police officers are receiving 6 figure pensions.
Need Some Help Lowering Your Annual Property Taxes?
If you live on Long Island and are currently paying high rates for property taxes, we understand your struggle and concerns. Here at Heller & Consultants Tax Grievance, we have an extraordinary record in helping you minimize your property tax burden. Best of all, you won’t pay us a dime until we successfully lower your property taxes. Give us a call for a free consultation today or apply online here.
Grieving your property taxes can be a long and difficult process without a knowledgeable and experienced third party like Heller & Consultants to handle it for you.
If there’s one thing that people like, it’s the ability to save a buck or two, and when it comes to their home – and the taxes they pay on it – the more money you can save, the better.
Many Long Islanders are familiar with the concept of grieving their property taxes with the county or town that they live in to potentially lower their bills. However, this can be a long and difficult process, and one in which people often recruit knowledgeable third parties to handle for them.
And when it comes to saving Long Islanders every cent of money that they possibly can on their property taxes, no other firm has the proven track record and enormous reductions that Heller & Consultants Tax Grievance has garnered over the years.
Based out of Rocky Point with satellite offices in Deer Park and Farmingdale, Heller & Consultants first opened their doors for business in 2007, and service clients in both Nassau and Suffolk County. Owner Adam Heller was kind enough to lay out the basic process behind why people grieve their taxes, and what his company can do to help them in that endeavor.
“Your tax bill is based on what your municipality believes the property to be worth…the more they think your property is worth, the higher your property tax bill, and the lower they think it’s worth, the lower your property tax bill,” he said. “What we do is that we prove to the assessor that it’s worth less than what they say it is, reducing the homeowner’s property taxes.”
Grieving your property taxes is literally a no-lose situation for any homeowner. First of all, Heller & Consultants charges the client nothing upfront, and nothing at all unless they actually reduce their taxes, in which case they typically charge one-half of the first year’s savings. There will also be no unwanted visits from a Heller representative or from any Suffolk or Nassau officials, and homeowners are protected under NYS law so that their taxes cannot be raised due to filing a grievance.
Also, if the idea of successfully grieving your property taxes has some homeowners worried that this can actually reduce the market/selling price of their home, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, it actually increases the value of their home instead! MLS studies show that homes with lower property taxes than surrounding homes sell for 10-20 percent more than surrounding homes; therefore, lowering your property tax assessment actually increases your home’s market value.
When it comes to the success that Heller & Consultants brings to the table in terms of saving their clients money, nothing speaks louder than the fact that they are literally a record-breaking agency in that regard, Heller said.
“Our firm holds the highest-ever one-year residential property tax decrease in both Nassau and Suffolk County,” he said. “In Nassau County, the record is $73,443, and in Suffolk County it’s $29,185.”
It’s no accident that Heller & Consultants can achieve those lofty numbers when it comes to saving their clients money on their property taxes; Heller notes that they put their all into each and every case they handle, whereas many of their competitors will only do so for their high-profile clients.
“We spend more time preparing the cases, and we put more work into it than other firms do. We try just as hard to get a homeowner a $1,000 reduction a year or a $70,000 reduction a year,” he said. “Many firms will prioritize their cases by the most profitable ones, and we really pride ourselves at looking at each case individually and putting everyone under a microscope and preparing the best evidence we can in court. After all, the burden of proof is on us to prove the assessor is wrong.”
Heller & Consultants will grieve property taxes for both residential and commercial clients.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Heller said that 2020 is shaping up to be one of his firm’s busiest ever, simply by the fact that people are doing whatever they can to save an extra buck due to the financial hardship so many are facing.
In addition to the pandemic, Nassau County’s recent overhaul of their assessment system is also causing more than a few headaches for people this year, Heller said; the assessed values of every property in Nassau have been all essentially reset, so even if a person has grieved in the past, they are starting from scratch in 2020.
“Nassau has started reassessing on an annual basis, so it’s vitally important for Nassau residents to start grieving their taxes every year,” he said. “In contrast, in Suffolk County you can only win a tax grievance case every other year. If you win one year, you can’t win again the following year.”
When it comes to helping people navigate the complicated legal system – and saving them some of their hard-earned money in the process, including not taking a fee unless they are successful – Heller said that the hard work is all worth every second that he and his dedicated consultants put into it.
“I used to be a real estate broker, and during a downturn in the market I sold the business and moved into grieving property taxes, which is very similar in that we are valuing real estate and still helping people,” he said. “Unlike many firms, we update the client monthly because it does typically take 12-18 months to get a result, whereas other firms will just disappear until a verdict is reached. We are always honest and always go the extra mile for our clients.”
Here at Heller & Consultants Tax Grievance, we understand how frustrating it can be to pay more money on taxes than you need to. The problem with letting the system of property taxes flow naturally without any sort of personal intervention on your part is that you often end up paying much more than you need to.
Our system is very simple. What we do here is demonstrate that your property is worth less than what your local municipality says it is. When we do this, you end up saving money otherwise spent on property taxes. We have spent over a decade in the Long Island area helping people to do just this.
Best of all, we don’t charge you any money upfront. It is only when we are successful with your property tax grievance that we will discuss this. In reality, then, you have nothing to lose by working with us!
This guide will break down everything you need to know about our services here at Heller & Consultants. From the basics behind how the system works to the exact steps we will go through should you become our client. Finally, we will finish by looking at some of the most important facts of this industry you need to be aware of.
We truly wish to help you save some money on your property taxes. This is why we are so proud to not only help you save taxes by handling your grievances but also offer rates that account for the money you saved. You won’t pay a dime unless we are successful with your petition. This is why we say that the only thing you have to lose is your taxes!
To get started, we recommend that you check out all the information included in this packet. When the time comes for you to handle your property grievances, we will be here ready to help you. All you need to do is contact us today and we will schedule a free consultation for you.
As a property owner, we all understand the burdens that come along with annual taxes. Although we can all probably agree that taxes are beneficial for our communities, there is nothing wrong with paying your fair dues. When you begin to be overcharged on taxes, there is nothing wrong with putting your strong arm down and refusing to be taken advantage of.
This is all simple mathematics and common sense. You work hard to pay off your mortgage. If you already own your home, then you put in countless hours of effort to earn the deed to your home. This is why you should always be on the lookout for ways to pay your fair share of taxes.
If you don’t look out for yourself, you shouldn’t expect the government to do so either. The person who determines the value of your home often has very little to do with you personally. In reality, they probably don’t care whether or not their assessment is 100% accurate.
This is where Heller & Consultants Tax Grievance comes into play. Since 2007, we have helped property owners save more than $35 million on their taxes. Our customers trust us because we guarantee our results. If you are denied a reduction in your taxes, we will pay for all the costs of the grievance process. There is no risk to you as the property owner.
Nikki B. from North Babylon is one of our most noteworthy success stories to share. Nikki came to us stressed out over the fact that she was paying too much in her property taxes. However, she wasn’t quite sure where to turn to for help. After sitting down with her and giving her a free estimate, we soon discovered that she has a case worth fighting for. When it was all said and done, she ended up saving $4,000 a year in property taxes.
Stories like these are starting to become much more of a normal routine for us here at Heller & Consultants. For you, the potential customer, we are ready to help duplicate results like these for you. With over 10 years of experience in this industry, we have mastered all the techniques and ins-and-outs of the system.
Therefore, if you are ready to stand up for yourself and stop paying an unfair amount of property taxes, we are here to help. We truly believe that our clients deserve to pay their fair share. If you are sick of municipality assessors inflating the value of your home, give us a call.
After a free consultation, we will help you come up with a plan to start paying your fair share of taxes. Since you won’t pay a dime unless your taxes are deducted, you have nothing to lose but your taxes!
Background Information on Property Tax Grievance
The first step in submitting a successful property tax grievance is understanding some very basic background knowledge on how this process works. Once you have an understanding of the process, you will be ready to tackle your property tax grievance petition much more confidently.
For your reference, we will start by taking a look at some of the most basic background information that exists on tax grievances. This will include some of the basic steps involved, the types of property grievances we handle here at Heller & Consultants, and some of the most popular candidates who can benefit from our tax grievance services.
What is Property Tax Grievance?
To put it simply, property tax grievance is a formal complaint that you file to the local municipality contesting the official valuation of your home. In order to do this properly, you will need to have the right information to fairly and politely contest the claim.
To prepare a property grievance, you will need to be the property owner listed on the official record. It is important to do this in a timely manner and submit all forms before deadlines are reached. As we will explore below, submitting forms after the deadline will result in automatic failure of your petition.
In addition, it is also important to note that you cannot file a tax grievance petition if one has been already done in the past two years. In which case, you simply wait a year or so to do your next petition. Below, we will break down some of the steps for preparing a property tax grievance in more detail.
Unbiased Property Re-Evaluation
The major first step in handling your property tax grievance is to get a re-evaluation from the assessor of your choosing or to find legitimate grounds for your grievance. Your local municipality assessor will typically start by determining the market value of your home by going through a similar process that your real estate agent went through when pricing your home before you purchased it.
When the municipality assessor comes up with their calculated market value, they go through other calculations to come with your property’s assessed value. As we can already see, this process can be very easy to manipulate and or make mistakes on. Since there is only one person who handles this process with very minimal oversight, this is where we will come into play.
The assessed value is typically much lower than homeowners anticipate. This is one of the many reasons that property owners never even think to file a tax grievance claim, or even think that they are not entitled to one in the first place.
Lower Taxes Means Quicker Sales
Many of our customers who come in for tax grievance services are looking to sell their home soon. Think of things as a potential buyer. One of the things that you might look for in your new home is what the estimated property taxes add up to. More than likely, there is a limit to how much you would be willing to pay.
As such, just as a potential buyer would be interested in the amount of taxes they will need to pay after purchasing the home, so should you as the seller. As long as the property meets the necessary requirements for tax grievances, we can help you sell the property much more quickly. After all, lower taxes mean quicker sales!
Tax Grievance is Much Easier than you Might Think
The final process of our work together will be to actually submit the petition for tax grievance. This is where we will compile the case of your petition in the form of a letter using all the required information and official forms. Once you understand how the system works and what to do to properly submit a petition for your tax grievances, the whole process might end up being a lot easier than you initially thought.
Many people think that this is a difficult thing to do. As we will explore below, all it takes is a little knowledge of how the system works and what information that the Board of Assessment Review will be looking for. Usually, when you have a legitimate case there is very minimal stress involved in this process.
Types of Property Tax Grievances We Handle
Property grievance services can come in many different shapes and forms. Many of our customers are private homeowners simply seeking a little less of a burden on their annual property taxes. However, we also proudly serve commercial property owners, as well as realtors seeking to lower property taxes for their clients.
1. Residential Tax Grievance
One of the most common types of clients we receive here at Heller & Consultants is private residential property owners. Usually, these people carry on normal lives and work very hard in their careers. Sadly, this can often leave them with very minimal time for handling things such as checking the work of municipality assessors on the value of their home.
2. Commercial Tax Grievance
Commercial property owners are another common client for us since these businesses typically also have some of the most to gain from paying the right amount of property taxes. After all, commercial properties can often be worth a lot more in the first place. This means that when you calculate up the amount of taxes you need to pay for even seemingly small value differences, it can really up to a lot of money.
3. Realtor Services
If you are a realtor who is trying to their hardest just to sell a property for your client, having tax grievance services done can be a no-brainer. You won’t even need to pay a dime as a realtor in order to have this service done. The property owner, on the other hand, quickly makes up for this difference either when they pay their lower property taxes or when the property is sold quicker than initially anticipated.
In-Depth Look at the Tax Grievance Process
Now that we have covered much of the basic background information you need to know as our client, let’s go ahead and switch our focus over to what we specifically do here at Heller & Consultants. Below, we will go ahead and break down the bare basics of each of the steps involved in handling tax grievance services.
Should you become our client, you will need to know each of these steps in a little more detail. As the property owner, we will be in direct contact with you during each step of the process. For starters, we can begin the process of grieving your property taxes after the municipality publishes the latest Assessment Roll in your market. This is normally done each year.
1. Municipality Value Assessment
Before you can even know whether or not you qualify for tax grievances, you need to know the latest municipality value and assessed value. The assessed value is calculated to be 40% of the property’s total municipality value. As we mentioned above, many homeowners often get confused between these two different numbers. This is one of the many reasons that they might decide to come and seek our help.
2. Testing the Municipality Assessment
Each year, your local municipality will publish the latest Assessment Roll. This can typically occur during the first week of May or June. This is done so that property owners such as yourself have plenty of time to view the latest numbers, and accordingly, file any sort of grievances that they may have. To access the Assessment Roll, go into your local municipality building, or simply call them and have them send it to you by fax or e-mail.
3. Completing Forms
In order to begin your petition process, you need to first ensure that you have a legitimate grievance to claim. To do this, you will need to gather two forms to submit. First, you will need a Form RP-524 (Complaint on Real Property Assessment) and a personal letter in support.
Form RP-524 is a relatively straightforward form to fill out and prepare. The personal letter of support (template below) needs to be attached to this document. If there are any other relevant forms necessary for ensuring the approval of your property tax grievances, we will be in touch with you to help you find all the necessary pieces of information.
4. Submitting Forms by Grievance Day Deadline
In order to get your tax grievance petition approved, you will need to submit all the forms by the proper deadline. Usually, this is known as “Grievance Day” in your local municipality. This is the day that the Board of Assessment Review will sit down and start going through all the different petitions. Many people will attend this personally in order to have the opportunity to state their case in-person. However, if we finish all the forms and complete them to perfection, you generally won’t need to do this.
In the event that your property value reduction is declined by the authorities, the last option for you to explore is filing an appeal. This can also be done in the event that the results you receive aren’t quite what you expected or hoped for. To file an appeal, you can appeal in the form of a Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) or schedule a Supreme Court trial.
How We Will Handle Your Property Tax Grievance
We understand how important it is as a potential client to understand how we will handle your tax grievance petition. Below, we will explore this process in a little bit more detail. The following information will give you all the insight you need about this process, how it is done, and what we can do for you in further detail.
Phase Two: Determining If You Have a Case for a Tax Grievance Petition
In order to file a tax grievance, the first thing to check is whether or not you have legitimate grounds for a petition in the first place. Below, we will break down some of the most popular forms of evidence that we can use as legitimate grounds for your grievance.
An appraisal is usually the easiest way to challenge the assessed value. An appraisal done by a private party or professional service is just as legitimate as one done by the municipality.
If you currently have your property for sale, the listing price is evidence that your property value is lower than what was calculated by the municipality.
If you can prove that you purchased the property in the last few years in a fair transaction where the seller was not under duress, this can be used as legitimate grounds for your grievance.
Online Value Estimates
Websites such as Zillow.com use an automated algorithm for producing values of your home. If we are unable to find proper grounds for your tax grievance using other means, this is one method we sometimes will explore.
Comparable Market Analysis
Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) is a very common way to get your property assessment lowered. This is done by comparing similar properties in your area that have lower values and using them as grounds for lowering your own.
Phase Two: Complaint on Real Property Assessment (Form RP-524)
The Form RP-524 is where you will formally declare your property grievance petition. For your reference, let’s go ahead and look at some of the basic information that this form contains and some of our top tips for completely correctly.
Part 1: Personal Information
Part one of the form is very straightforward and simple to fill out. You simply need to put in your personal information. Much of this you should already know. If there is any information on the property that you do not know (like the tax map number), you can usually find it in the Assessment Roll of the municipality.
Part 2: Property Details
In part two of the form, you will start to prepare grounds for your grievance by giving out your basic property details. Some of your property information you already started filling out in part one. There are multiple checkboxes for you to go through. Remember that more than one can apply to your home, but the most important thing to do is be thorough and honest.
Part 3: Grounds for Grievance
In part three of the RP-524, you will be listing your actual grounds for your grievances. It is important to take this part seriously since this is where you identify the bulk of your grounds for your grievance petition. This is where you include the relevant grounds for your grievance that you established while determining whether or not you have a case.
The part that people tend to mess up the most in this section is putting in the correct market value and the proposed assessed value. Remember that these two numbers are generally very different. When you work with us, we can ensure that this is done accurately.
Parts 4-6: Final Checks & Signature
In parts 4 through 6 of the form, you will simply do some final checks. If you hired somebody to represent you, this will be included here. In addition, you will simply verify that everything on the form is true and that sign the document. If you negotiated with an assessor and reached an agreement on the assessment of your property before Grievance Day, you can also put this information here.
Phase 3: Send a Petition Letter to the Board of Assessment Review
After we have prepared the forms for you to handle your petition, it is now necessary to write a letter to the Board of Assessment Review in support of your petition. This is where we will put in exact numbers and the grounds for rightly handling your tax grievance. For your reference, here is a model of what this letter can look like:
Board of Assessment Review
Re: Objection to Property Assessment in 20XX
[Address in Question]
Board of Assessment Review,
I am writing to you today to support my objection to the Real Property Assessment for 2020 for my property located at [your address]. I have completed and attached the Form RP-524.
The Town Assessor’s valuation of my property is, in reality, higher than its true value. The Assessor has valued my property to be [$XX.XX] when the true value has been determined to be [$XX.XX]. Below, you can see the criteria which this information has been based upon.
[Use any of the following that applies to your petition]:
My property is currently listed for sale at the price of [$XX.XX] since [date first listed].
The attached appraised conducted by [Appraiser name] on [Date] showing a current value of [$XX.XX]. The appraisal was conducted to [reason for appraisal].
The property was purchased by myself for the value of [$XX.XX] at a fair price agreed upon by both parties with full knowledge of the property’s value.
Plenty of research has also been done by myself on the surrounding market property values. To conduct this research, various properties were explored around the locality that were similar in terms of property size, amenities, number of rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, and so on. When picking properties to compare, we found various comparable properties that were sold significantly below the market value determined by the municipality’s assessor.
[Property address] sold for [$XX.XX] on [Date]. This property has [list similar information such as bedrooms, bathrooms, size, and so on]
[Property address] sold for [$XX.XX] on [Date]. This property has [list similar information such as bedrooms, bathrooms, size, and so on]
[Property address] sold for [$XX.XX] on [Date]. This property has [list similar information such as bedrooms, bathrooms, size, and so on]
With the above information in mind, I humbly request that the market value of my property to be reduced from [$XX.XX] to [$XX.XX].
Thank you for your assistance and wish you all the best,
10 Facts You Need to Know About Property Tax Grievances
Now that we have covered the many aspects of our service, how the system works, and what we can specifically do for you, let’s go ahead and switch focus over to some of the most important facts to know. Each of the following points are very important for you to know as the property owner.
1. There is a Deadline for Submitting Your Petition
Grievance Day is the official deadline that is produced by your municipality to submit your grievance petition. If you do not submit all of your forms by this time in the proper manner, you will have to wait until the next grievance day. On this day, the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) will meet to begin processing grievance petitions.
2. You Don’t Need to Attend Your Hearing
It is possible to actually show up in person and represent yourself to the Board of Assessment Review. Clearly, this might be a good idea for you to consider. Especially if you imagine that there may be questionable aspects of your petition. Generally, we advise our clients not to attend the hearing since we have developed enough expertise to know exactly what the Board of Assessment Review is looking for. We will help you craft a perfect petition that gets approved, or you won’t pay a dime.
3. You Don’t Need to Hire a Tax Grievance Service, But Most Do
Many people see legal processes like these as something which requires the help of a tax grievance service. Just as you can process a lawsuit on your own without a lawyer, a tax grievance can also be done on your own. However, the trick is having knowledge of how the system works. This is where we come in. People work with us because they know that we are expert navigators of the tax grievance system.
4. Property Taxes Are Not Set by the Assessor
When the municipality assessor determines the value of your property, it has nothing to do with determining your property taxes. Once the assessor determines the market value of your property, they then do a simple mathematical calculation to determine your assessed value, as we described above. This process is the same thing that can be done by a real estate agent or a professional appraisal. Thus, why it is subject to petitions.
5. You are Challenging the Assessment, Not the Taxes
Forget about your property taxes and what you are paying. These are not subject to petition. What is subject to petition is the assessment of your home’s value. As we have explored, the official municipality assessment can be challenged if you believe it is wrong. However, the actual property taxes you have to pay are a reflection of the assessment, and not able to be challenged separately.
6. All You Need are Legitimate Grounds for a Grievance
If you have legitimate grounds for a grievance, we will be able to help you. In addition, you simply need to submit all the right paperwork in a timely fashion. When these factors are accounted for, we have an extremely high success rate for our clients. Our clients are happy to pay our fees since they are much more affordable than what they would have otherwise paid in property taxes without a successful tax grievance petition.
7. You Don’t Need to Pay for an Appraisal
Don’t get on the phone and schedule a paid appraisal. There are many ways to challenge the assessed value without paying for a separate service like this. As we explored above with our template letter of support, you compare similar properties in your area with your own. Of course, an appraisal can help your tax grievance process, but it isn’t necessarily required.
8. Making an Appeal is Sometimes Necessary
In the event that we are unable to have your tax grievance petition approved, there are still ideas for you to consider. Even with an approved grievance petition, you can have it appealed. To do this, you will almost usually require the assistance of a lawyer. Appeals are done by scheduling a Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) or Supreme Court trial.
9. This is Completely Legal and Ethical to Do
You are not unfairly taking advantage of anybody or doing anything that is against the law by processing a tax grievance petition. On the contrary, you are simply standing up for yourself and ensuring you pay your fair share of taxes. You wouldn’t go out and pay $40,000 for a $20,000 car, would you? In the same manner, you shouldn’t force yourself to pay more property taxes than you have to.
10. We Have Helped Our Customers Save over $35 Million
We wouldn’t here to advertise ourselves as Long Islands #1 property tax grievance service if we didn’t have the track record to back ourselves up. Since 2007 alone, we are proud to say that we have saved our clients over $35 million in property taxes. That’s a lot of vacations, nights out to eat, birthday presents, and so on! If you want similar results, be sure to schedule a free consultation with us today!
Summary & Useful Resources
As we have explored throughout this packet, it is much easier to handle a tax grievance than many people might imagine. If you know how the system works and the laws the entitle you to petition your value assessment, you have already fought half of the fight.
All you need to do is look at the Assessment Roll and see if you have any legitimate grievance. With a legitimate grievance, you simply need to fill in all the necessary paperwork and demonstrate that you have a legitimate case to the municipality by the Grievance Day deadline.
Of course, though, this process can be quite a bit of work for you to handle on your own. This is why Heller & Consultants is to help you throughout this process. After scheduling a free consultation, we will tell you if you have a legitimate case. Most importantly, you will not pay a dime unless we successfully have your grievance petition approved!
For your reference, here are some additional resources for you to explore before making your decision and during the grievance:
Form RP-524: Complaint on Real Property Assessment:
Looking to appeal your property tax assessment in the near future? We are here to help. Here at Heller & Consultants Tax Grievance Group, we have developed a system to help our clients save money on taxes. Best of all, you don’t have to pay a dime until we win your case. Below, we will break down 15 expert tips for getting your property tax assessment appealed successfully.
1. Know How Your Municipality’s Assessment Works
The assessor that works for the municipality does not have your best interest at heart when they are assessing the total value of your home. In all reality, they are only motivated by getting their job done as quickly as possible. Even if this means that they cut some corners and miss out on some important details in the assessment process. Of course, this can be very problematic for you as the property owner seeking the lowest property taxes possible.
2. Determine Deadlines for Grievance
Better known as “Grievance Day” you will need to have all of your grievance paperwork formally filed and turned in by this day to have a chance at getting your petition approved. Be sure to check your local municipality’s website to determine what day of the year your local Grievance Day is. Keep in mind that if you wait too long that you cannot appeal your tax assessment until the next calendar year.
3. Compare Local Properties
One of the best ways to gather evidence that your property assessment was inaccurately done by the municipality is to look at some of the similar homes you have in your area. To be clear, it’s important to compare similar properties in many different areas such as the total number of rooms, the size of the property, remodeling work that has been done, amenities, and so on. If you find similar homes in your locality with lower values and you may already have a case.
4. Do a Private Appraisal
If you have the extra money to spend on a private appraisal service, this will probably be enough evidence for you to get started with your petition. In many cases, a private appraisal will be a lot more thorough since you are privately paying them to do a good job. One of the only downsides to this idea is that you might end up spending more money than you could end up saving that year on your taxes. Especially if you don’t get your appeal approved.
5. Consider the Recent Purchase Price
Did you recently purchase the home, or have data from previous purchases? This is generally really good evidence that you have a case to appeal your home’s value assessment. The main idea here is that you need to demonstrate that the property was purchased without the seller being under duress. If the seller can be proven to have been under duress, your evidence here will hold a lot less ground.
6. Look at Online Value Estimates
There are various online property value estimators. Zillow is one of the various options that you can use for getting an online value estimate. Although sources like these can definitely help you to appeal your home’s value assessment, these are usually best paired with other forms of evidence. In other words, don’t use online value estimates as your only piece of evidence if you want to have the best chance possible for winning your case.
7. Compile Data the Assessor May Not Have Had
There are literally hundreds of variables that can come into play when properly determining your property’s value. From small details such as the total number of rooms and the overall property size to smaller details such as recent home renovations, try to find data that the municipality assessor either skipped, missed, or didn’t even have access to. These are a great starting point for helping you get your petition approved.
8. Check for Errors in the Municipality Assessment
You wouldn’t be trying to appeal your property value assessment if you weren’t convinced that there was at least one error that will eventually force you to pay higher property tax levels. Therefore, compile each of the errors that you notice and formally list them. This way, you can easily reference this information later on when it comes time to formally appeal your property value assessment with your local municipality.
9. Have a Logical Case for Your Grievance
You shouldn’t depend on your ability to fool people into giving you an appeal for your property tax assessment. This is a recipe for complete disaster. Municipality officials are generally very smart and will pay closer attention to details during a tax grievance petition process. This is why you need to focus mostly on developing a logical case for your grievance that is based on facts and errors committed by the municipality assessor instead.
10. Remember that This is a Common Thing to Do
Many people, for whatever reason, start to feel bad about appealing their property tax assessment. They might see this as potentially unethical, morally wrong, and so on. In reality, doing this is a completely common and 100% legal thing to do. Therefore, you are simply upholding your rights as an American citizen and protecting yourself from potentially paying more than your fair share of property taxes.
11. Remember that You Are Challenging the Assessment, Not the Taxes
Clearly, your end goal of getting a property value assessment appealed is so that you can lessen the burden of property taxes. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you are not ever going to actually challenge your total amount of property taxes. Instead, what you will be challenging is the assessment made by the municipality’s assessor. This is the data that you will need to be appealed if you hope to lower your property taxes.
12. Know Your Municipality’s Appeal Requirements
Typically, you will simply need to fill out a couple of forms and formally submit a letter of petition in order to kick-start the process for getting your appeal handled. However, this process can be different depending on which municipality you live in. Be sure to check with your local authorities to ensure that you know all the requirements for properly getting your appeal put into the system.
13. Complete Your Paperwork Properly
As you probably know, handling government paperwork can be a bit of a hassle. There can be lots of picky information that you need to include, details that you need to look up, and so on. However, it is important that you give this process the respect it deserves. Make sure you input all the correct information that you gathered during your research stage in order to
14. Formally Petition Your Property Assessment
Once you have all of your facts straight, the paperwork completed, and know the process for doing your petition, all you need to do now is go through the steps. Clearly, this is a process that you can do on your own. Once you formally submit your petition, simply wait for Grievance Day to pass. If successful, your adjusted value will be posted on your municipality’s Assessment Roll promptly.
15. Get Professional Assistance for Property Tax Grievance
Here at Heller & Consultants Tax Grievance Group, we specialize in helping our clients get their property assessment petitions approved in a timely and affordable manner in the Long Island area. We are so confident in our service that you won’t need to pay anything until your property tax grievance is approved. Give us a call today for a free consultation.
Property taxes fund schools, libraries, police and fire departments, along with public works such as roads, parks, and playgrounds. They’re essential to our communities – but that doesn’t make them any easier to pay. When you buy a home, you learn what the property taxes are in your area. However, when those rates start rising, it’s often difficult to understand why. When you’re holding a higher tax bill in your hand, it’s most likely one of the following reasons that are to blame for your property tax bill rise.
1- Property Revaluation
Predictably, municipalities do reevaluate the properties in their area at certain intervals. During this time, accessors, who are government officials, will go around and do their best to determine the true assessed value of the properties in their jurisdiction. This is to help ensure that the tax burden is correctly spread amongst the area’s homeowners. The assessor is only responsible for assessments – not taxes.
According to the NY State Department of Taxation and Finance, months after assessments are finalized by the assessor, taxing units (school districts, cities, towns, and counties) determine the amount of taxes that a taxing unit needs to collect from property owners, known as the tax levy. The property tax levy is determined separately from the assessments and is then distributed over all taxable assessments.
A home assessment doesn’t necessarily mean that your taxes will go up. For example, there may be a lot of new constructions in your community, which can help to offset any tax bill increase.
2- Home Improvement and Additions
Renovations are a common part of homeownership and revitalizing your home can add to its value. Unfortunately, however, that bathroom or more substantial kitchen renovation you just finished will most likely cause your property taxes to rise as well. Why? There’s a simple reason. Improving your home means it’s worth more. As your property taxes are based on the value of your home, when your home value increases, your property taxes will increase alongside.
Adding a second floor to a ranch home or an extension to the back of a colonial house will most likely increase that home’s property taxes. But anything that increases the square footage of the living space that you already have, such as finishing the attic, garage, or basement with sheetrock and adding heat and air conditioning, will likely trigger an automatic reassessment as well.
Building an additional bathroom is an improvement that will trigger a reassessment of a home. While replacing cabinets in your kitchen may not trigger an assessment, moving walls and adding cabinets and countertops may.
Even improvements to your property outside of your home can trigger an assessment. While above ground pools don’t tend to increase property values, inground pools do. Adding fences, sheds, patios, and decks can also increase your home value, causing corresponding property taxes to increase.
Before any home renovation, it might be worth running the numbers. Calculate how much the renovation will cost you, what it will add to your property’s value, and then figure out what the probable rise in your tax bill will be. Before you pull the trigger on your home renovation, decide if you can afford a higher property tax bill, or if the expense of the remodel will leave you with too short a cash flow to pay the higher rates. If you’re unsure, you might want to hold off and save up until you’re sure you have enough for a renovation and your new property taxes.
Home values are partially based on the value of other homes in the area – so keep track of what your neighbors are selling their homes for, not what they pay in taxes since what they pay can include exemptions. If the homes in your neighborhood are selling for more than the asking price, it might be a sign that property taxes are soon to rise. Unfortunately, this type of tax increase is out of your hands.
4 – Building New Schools
New schools are important additions to the community – however, they’re also almost always a signal that a property tax hike is on the way. First off, new schools will attract new families as your community becomes a more desirable location. This will drive home prices up, and subsequently, property taxes.
New schools – at least, if they’re public – may also contribute to higher government budgets, as administrators, teachers, and school employees will need to be hired, and grounds will need to be maintained, which almost always indicates that a tax rise is on the way.
5 – Local Government Budget Increases
One of the principal reserves on which cities and counties draw to fund their budgets is the property tax. If budgetary needs increase, the residents’ taxes may need to be increased to help pay for it.
According to the Office of the NY State Comptroller, with some exceptions, the State’s Property Tax Cap limits the amount local governments, and most school districts can increase property taxes to the lower of two percent or the rate of inflation.In order to override the Tax Cap, local government boards must pass a local law or resolution by at least a 60 percent vote.
What should I do if I Think my Long Island Property Taxes are Too High?
So how can homeowners push back and lower their property tax rates? For starters, make sure your property records reflect your property accurately. Mistakes do happen. Some assessments list more bedrooms or bathrooms than you have in your home. If you do find mistakes, make sure to contact the tax assessor and have them corrected.
If you believe your property taxes are too high, you can file a tax grievance. A tax grievance professional can give you a good estimation of whether pursuing a tax grievance is a good idea or not, and that’s because they have a great sense of the tendencies in the local boards when evaluating various kinds of petitions. Hiring a respected tax grievance firm costs you nothing unless your property taxes are reduced.
Founded on the simple principle of helping our clients pay the lowest possible property taxes, Heller & Consultants Tax Grievance have saved Suffolk and Nassau residents over $35 MILLION, a figure that continues to increase daily. Last year alone we saved our Nassau clients over $1.5M in property taxes… Suffolk homeowners over $1.4M.
Part 1: Homeowners earning between $250,000 and $500,000 a year will get a check for their STAR rebates this year, rather than receiving the savings directly in their school-tax bills.
Part 2: Any STAR recipient that doesn’t switch to a check will miss out on the two percent increase in their tax savings this fall.
The changes won’t impact eligibility – just whether homeowners receive the rebates in a check or in their school-tax bills, and not everyone will feel the change.
Those who owned their homes before Aug. 1, 2015, and earn less than $250,000 a year, will still get the STAR savings in their tax bills unless they opt for the check.
If property owners want to switch to the STAR credit program, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance suggests that they register as soon as possible, and no later than two weeks prior to the date when the final assessment roll is published.
A spokesperson for the tax department said the system is working well and that homeowners should feel confident they will get the checks prior to when their school taxes are due.
Last year, the agency said it issued 99.5% of STAR credit checks prior to the school tax bill due date.
The School Tax Relief (STAR) program is a property tax rebate program available to New Yorkers whose household income is $500,000 or less – only primary residences are eligible. Around 2.6 million homeowners in New York receive the STAR tax break, which averages to around $790 per year per household.
The tax break is part of a $3 billion program that started in the mid-1990s, which helps New Yorkers curb the impact of having among the highest school taxes in the nation.
Why the Changes?
Under the previous system, schools give homeowners the STAR savings and then get reimbursed by the state — which showed up as a budget expense for the state. The new system gives the savings directly to the homeowners in a check, so it counts as a “personal income tax credit,” and shows up in the state budget as a reduction in tax revenue – not as state spending.
That change is sizable for the state’s finances. The new system is estimated to lower spending by $238 million in the fiscal year. Plus, capping the growth in the program for those who don’t get a check is another potential money-saver for the state.
Critics have asserted that the STAR program’s alterations have created falsities in the state’s budget by changing how the program functions, from a homeowner’s property tax discount to a state-issued ‘personal income tax credit’ that is issued as a check. According to an article in lohud. the Director of State Studies for the Citizens Budget Commission, David Friedfel asserts “the state is able to artificially make state spending appear lower than it is.”
The state defended the changes, however, saying it will help cut out fraud in the program and streamline payments. The goal of the changes, as explained by Freeman Klopott, spokesman for the state Budget Division, is to transfer people to the credit program, which is more efficiently administered. This will help to prevent abuse of the system. It will also separate the STAR savings from the tax bill, making districts more accountable to taxpayers.
What About Mortgage Escrows?
The changes will impact homeowners who pay their taxes through a mortgage escrow because they will pay more per month to cover the taxes, and then have to wait for reimbursement through the STAR check.
Are Seniors Affected?
Senior citizens who get Enhanced STAR are not impacted by the changes and will still get the savings upfront on their tax bills although those receiving Enhanced STAR will now have to enroll in an income-verification program to get the rebate. Enhanced STAR is available to homeowners age 65 and older with incomes of $86,300 or less. This program benefits 665,000 seniors and averages $1,400 a year.