As a licensed Property Tax Grievance Consultant and owner of Long Island’s most successful property tax grievance firm I am constantly asked by my client’s what can I do to lower my home’s exorbitant tax bill?
1. File for an Exemption– Contact your local town assessor’s office and inquire on what exemptions you may qualify for. This is one of the simplest ways to lower your tax bill, the following is a list of just a few of the many Exceptions that exist:
- STAR (Basic & Enhanced)
- Senior Citizen & Low Income
- Home Improvement
- Disability & Low Income
- Agricultural Commitment
- Religious & Non-Profit
- First-Time Homeowners
- Volunteer Firefighters & Ambulance Workers
Please visit your local Town’s Assessor’s office or website for more information, since some Exceptions can vary by Township.
2. Accuracy– Be sure that the information that your local Township has on file for your home is accurate. Again, you can do this by contacting your local Assessor’s office and requesting what information they have on file. The following is a list of the most important physical traits that can majorly affect your assessment and therefore your tax bill:
- Square Footage
- Room Count
- Swimming Pool
- Number of Bathrooms
- Central Air Conditioning
- Finished Basement
- Basement or Slab
- Porches, Decks, or Patios
3. School District– I have seen many homeowner’s over-assessed simply due to the fact that their Assessor’s office has them in the wrong school district. School districts can affect your assessment and market value greatly. I have come across many cases where the assessor thinks a home is in one school district when it is really in another, therefore the assessor places a higher value on the home than it should have. Again, contact your assessor’s office and be sure they have you in the correct district, this can be especially important if you live “on the line” between two different districts. I had one case just last year that was in Rocky Point School district, the Town of Brookhaven’s Assessor’s office had them in the neighboring Miller Place School District, where homes sell for a whopping 40% higher value. I saved this client $4,500 a year!
4. File a Property Tax Grievance- File a tax grievance every single year. I have many clients’ that had been on the fence for years. They had heard about filing a property tax grievance, but held off because either they had Exceptions or were nervous about the Town somehow punishing them for filing. FILING A PROPERTY TAX GRIEVANCE IS YOUR LEGAL RIGHT, further, homeowner’s are protected under NYS law from any municipality raising their property taxes due to filing a grievance.
5. Hire a Professional- I am not an attorney, but I have been to court. Trust me you do not want to go to court without a licensed attorney. You’ve heard the old saying “a person representing themselves has a fool for a lawyer”. So why would you file a tax grievance yourself when 99% of these cases go to court due to the fact that local towns deny most petitions at the town level. Further, homeowner’s who file on their own end up saving far less in their taxes, therefore they are costing themselves far more than they would hiring a professional. However, before you hire a professional be sure that they are licensed, open year round, have an appraiser on staff, and NEVER pay a company any upfront fees.