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As a licensed Property Tax Grievance Consultant I am asked a lot of questions regarding what I call “property tax grievance myths,” which have been around for years.  The following is a list of the top 5:

Myth #1

I have a bathroom, finished basement, or other addition to my home that the town or county doesn’t know about, is it still safe to file?

Yes, local towns and counties simply do not have the necessary resources to investigate the thousands of property tax grievance filings filed each and every year.  This is probably the biggest fear my clients have with regards to whether they should file or not.  I am not condoning illegal additions here, I am just saying it is not the function of Assessor’s Department to enforce or investigate whether a resident has an extra bathroom.  Furthermore, even if you have an illegal addition, the benefits of making it legal may outweigh the risks.  Let’s say a home owner has a finished basement that the town has no idea exists, because of this he/she does not file a property tax grievance.  They may qualify for a $1,500/year reduction, however, making the finished basement legal would only raise their taxes approximately $400 a year.  In the end they are overpaying by $1,100 a year.

Myth #2

Can the town or county raise my taxes because I filed a property tax grievance?

No, no, and absolutely no!  I get this question all the time, home owners in NYS are protected by law preventing the local municipalities from raising their assessment due to filing a property tax grievance.  It is your right as a NYS resident to challenge your assessment.  Other states do not have this law, so take advantage of your right!

Myth #3

I already receive an exemption, such as STAR, Enhanced STAR, or Veterans.  Therefore I am already paying the lowest amount, right?

Wrong!  While it is a good thing that you are taking advantage of those exemption programs, grieving your property taxes can reduce your overall tax bill even further.

Myth #4

I’m selling my home, so why should I file a property tax grievance, let the buyers take care of it!

This is really short sighted and can end up costing sellers a lot more than you may think.  Studies by the Long Island Board of Realtors have repeatedly shown that for every $1,000 less a year in property taxes, it raises the home’s value $10,000.  Another thing to keep in mind is that, nine times out of ten, the purchaser’s will become responsible to pay the grievance company, since they will be the ones enjoying the benefits of the lower taxes.  Let’s face it, even if you do not sell the home why not lower your taxes any way.

Myth #5

How can a company reduce my property taxes, there must be a catch?

While there are some unscrupulous companies out there who charge upfront fees or deny cases that they deem to be too small, there are some, like Heller & Consultants Tax Grievance , located in Suffolk County, NY who charge no upfront fees.  “They are total Professionals,” says Dr. Donna Giovanni of Miller Place, NY, located on the North Shore of Long Island.  “They reduced my taxes by more than $4,800 a year, I saw no real downside, since there was no money due unless they were successful, now I tell all my patients about them,” continues Dr. Giovanni.

So folks take the Doc’s advice, forget about the myths, and grieve your property taxes this year!   You have nothing to lose, except maybe some of those Long Island property taxes!