Three Ways You Can Challenge Your Assessment

Residents of Westchester and Nassau Counties in New York pay some of the highest real estate taxes in the country. As state and local tax deductions are now capped at $10,000, many taxpayers who formerly received a tax benefit for their real estate taxes are no longer able to on their federal tax returns. As real estate taxes tend to increase over time, it can be prudent to consider appealing your assessment to ensure that you are not paying more than necessary.

While the majority of high-value real estate counties have processes in place to grieve taxes, each county’s procedures may vary. On Long Island, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran ordered a full reassessment in 2018, which was the first of its kind since 2011. Property owners will be impacted by the new valuations, with an expected 52% finding their taxes increased as 48% will see a decrease. The assessed value of your real estate is the basis on which your taxes are calculated, and therefore extremely important to have been determined correctly. Accurate information about your property, in combination with data from comparable sales, is used to determine market value and contribute to a proper assessment. In many instances, corrections to the value can be made. According to Newsday, “61% of Nassau County property owners have appealed their assessments since 2010 and the average increase in property taxes for those who grieved their taxes was 5%, compared to a 35% increase in taxes for those who didn’t appeal.”

As each county has specific guidelines for filing a challenge to your assessment, check with your local municipality for their requirements. The last day to file challenges to Nassau County’s 2019-2020 taxes has just been extended from March 1st to a new deadline of April 30, 2019. Property owners have several options available to them in order to grieve their taxes.

  • Hire a law firm. There are many firms which send out mass mailings offering help in reducing your real estate taxes. While these larger law firms can file appeals on your behalf, many of them will charge you 50% of the reduction that they are able to obtain. With property taxes that reach $30,000 to $40,000 or more, the cost of that reduction can be significant.
  • Hire an independent representative. These are individuals or small companies who also can file a challenge to your assessment. They will find accurate information on comparable sales and may provide you with more personalized attention than you might receive with a large law firm. An advantage to using an independent representative is that they will typically charge a flat fee. For example, you might be charged $500 per year to file your grievance, with this fee being refunded to you if your taxes do not decrease.

Regardless of where you may own property, it can be a good idea to closely examine your real estate taxes and to consider filing an appeal of your assessment. At Frisch, we are here to help you understand your options and to guide you toward the process which may be best suited for you.