Reducing Your Property Taxes in New York State
Patrick D. Donnelly, Esq
Your real property taxes are based on the value of your property on the assessment roll. If your assessed value is higher than the actual value of your property, you should consider challenging your assessed value. You also may be able to reduce your taxes by applying for tax exemptions.
It is important to note the equalization rate when reviewing your assessed value. If it is less than 100%, the assessed value may appear to be lower than your actual value when it is actually higher. Instead in situations where the equalization rate is less than 100%, look at the full market value, which should be on your tax bill, and compare that to your actual value.
DEADLINES TO BE AWARE OF FOR CHALLENGING YOUR PROPERTY TAX ASSESMENT
Here are some important dates from the New York State Real Property Tax Law (RPTL). However, the dates and procedures can be changed by municipalities and should be confirmed with each individual municipality where you may own property. The dates for the City of Syracuse, for example, are different than those set forth in the RPTL, and are subject to change.
March 1 (January 1 in the City of Syracuse) —Taxable status date and exemption deadline. When the assessor determines the value of property for the upcoming roll, the value must be based on the property’s value usually on July 1 of the prior year based on the status of the property on March 1 (January 1 in Syracuse) of the current year. The last day for filing for property tax exemptions is also usually March 1 (January 1 in Syracuse).
May 1 (January 1 in Syracuse) — Assessor publishes the tentative assessment roll. (Syracuse’s roll is often published a couple weeks later than January 1.) It may make sense to speak to the assessor well before this date, even more than a month before.
Fourth Tuesday in May (last two “full” weeks of January in Syracuse) – Grievance Day – Usually the last day to file grievances challenging tax assessments or denials of any claimed property tax exemptions.
July 1 (March 31 in Syracuse) — Assessor publishes the final assessment roll.
July 31 (April 30 in Syracuse) or within 30 days of publication of the roll, whichever is later — This is the last day to file a lawsuit, petition or Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) proceeding under RPTL Article 7 challenging your assessed value. Please note you must have properly filed a grievance with the assessor or the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) with your municipality to commence an Article 7. It usually makes sense to file a lawsuit to challenge denial of tax exemptions or incorrectly applied exemptions by this date.
October 31 (July 31 in Syracuse) —Last day to file a CPLR Article 78 petition challenging unconstitutional treatment or denial of certain tax exemptions.
There are other deadlines and procedures that may be required based on your circumstances so an attorney should be consulted as soon as possible.
The RPTL contains many property tax exemptions, including for private property, agriculture, construction, renovation, nonprofits, religious organizations, veterans, solar, wind, green technology, etc. There are also exemptions that can be provided by Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) through Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) programs. Some exemptions need to be renewed every year, and some exemptions expire over time or when an exempt entity sells to a non-exempt entity. Often for property where the exemption has been lost or expired, the value on the assessment roll can be significantly higher than the actual value and should be challenged.
CORRECTION OF ERRORS
Errors on the current roll or rolls from prior years can sometimes be corrected through procedures under Title 3, Article 5 of the RPTL.
If you would like to discuss your property tax assessment and evaluate whether a tax certiorari challenge may be appropriate for your property, please contact us at (315) 399-4343.