Assessment FAQs

Property Taxes

Who is responsible for taxes?


Your taxing jurisdiction (school district, town, county, etc.) is responsible for developing and adopting a budget. There are several steps involved in this process. Revenue from all sources other than the property tax is determined. These revenues are subtracted from the budget to arrive at the tax levy - the total amount to be raised through the property tax. The tax rate for properties in your community is then determined by dividing the tax levy by the total taxable assessed value of taxable real property in your community (tax levy ÷ total taxable assessed value = tax rate).




Won't my taxes increase if my assessment is adjusted?


First, as noted above, your assessor does not increase your taxes. Assessors are trained to be appraisal professionals; it is their job to make sure that the assessments are accurate and equitable, which provides the basis for fair distribution of taxes among the property owners within the assessing unit. Keeping assessments up-to-date each year is necessary for fair tax distribution. Next, keeping values up-to-date each year does not necessarily mean that your assessment will increase. Market values of properties may stay the same or go down, which means that some properties should see a decrease in assessed values. If your assessment does increase, it doesn't mean that your taxes will automatically increase. In some cases, a municipality will go from a fractional level of assessment to 100 percent. If the original level of assessment was 10 percent, and the current level of assessment is 100 percent, your assessed value could go from $9,000 to $90,000, and you might not see any increase in taxes. In addition, if your assessment increases, but the assessments of most other properties increase more, your share of the taxes could decrease. For instance, if your assessment increased by 3 percent, but most other property owners saw increases of 5 percent, you'll likely see a decrease in taxes (assuming your school and municipal budgets remain stable and the tax levy does not increase).




Does my town collect more taxes if it does a reassessment?


It is not uncommon to hear property owners complain that their city or town is updating their assessments just so it can collect more taxes. Actually, a cursory understanding of the municipal budget process would dispel this misconception. Assessments are determined by the assessor. The assessor's job is to make sure that all property owners are assessed fairly based on the market values (or a uniform percentage of the market values) of their properties. Months after assessments are finalized, school districts, cities, towns and counties determine how much they need to collect in taxes. You can think of the total amount of taxes collected by the city, school district or county as a pie. The assessor does not determine the size of the pie - that is the job of city councils, town boards, school boards and county legislatures. The assessor's job is to ensure that the pie is cut up fairly - that taxes are fairly distributed based on current market values. When a reassessment results in increased assessments due to rising property values, tax rates should go down proportionally. This is because the tax levy is now being distributed over a broader tax base. If tax rates go up or stay the same, it simply means that municipal and/or school budgets are going up.




If my town does a reassessment, will my taxes increase?


First, a reassessment does not necessarily mean that your assessment or your taxes will increase. Furthermore if your assessment does increase, it does not necessarily mean your taxes will increase. A property's assessment is supposed to reflect its market value. As market values increase or decrease and the assessments do not keep pace and reflect these changes, some property taxpayers could pay more than their fair share of taxes, while others may pay less than their fair share. Reassessments are intended to restore fairness within the community. Sometimes the taxes will be shifted among types of property. What if all of the market values in a community increased since the last reassessment, but the value of brick houses had increased much faster than wooden houses? Then the owners of brick houses should pay a greater portion of taxes, while the owners of wooden houses should pay a smaller portion. This is one of the reasons that it is important for municipalities to conduct reassessments on a frequent basis. The longer between reassessments, the more likely taxpayers will experience dramatic tax shifts. In some cases during a reassessment, a municipality will go from a fractional level of assessment to 100%. If the original level of assessment was 10 percent, your assessed value could go from $9,000 to $90,000, and you might not see any increase in taxes. Of course, market values of properties also go down, which means that such properties should see a decrease in assessed values.





Property Assessment

Who is responsible for assessments?


Assessments are determined by the assessor, an elected or appointed local official, who independently estimates the market value of real property in your community. Market value is how much your property would sell for under normal conditions. Once the assessor estimates the market value of your property, the assessment is calculated.




What do Assessors do?


The assessor is the official who estimates the value of real property within the municipalities’ borders. This value is converted into an assessment, which is one component in the computation of property tax bills.
The assessor maintains the assessment roll – the document that contains every property’s assessment. The physical description, or inventory, and value estimate of every piece of real estate in the municipality is kept up-to-date. The information contained on this site is taken from the Final Assessment Roll, filed on July 1st of every year. The assessment roll may be reviewed on-line or at Town Hall by appointment before the filing of the tentative assessment roll (May 1st each year). The only changes that can be made to the tentative assessment roll are through the formal grievance process with the Board of Assessment Review. After the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) has acted on assessment complaints and ordered changes, the tentative roll is made final (July 1st. each year).
Assessors are interested only in fairly assessing property in their assessing unit. If your assessment seems correct but your tax bill still seems too high, the assessor cannot change that. Complaints to the assessor or the Board of Assessment Review must be about how the property is assessed. Complaints about high taxes should go directly to the taxing jurisdiction, such as the town, village or city board, school board or county legislature, who set the tax rates. The assessor does not set tax rates.




What is an Equalization Rate and How is it Calculated?


An equalization rate is the ratio of total assessed value to total market value of an assessing unit is determined by the NYS Office of Real Property Services on an annual basis. It is used by the State to allocate aid to school districts and by Counties to apportion County taxes among municipalities.




What is the difference between the market value and assessed value of my property?


The market value of your property is generally defined as what your property would sell for under normal conditions. For residential properties, your assessor generally determines market values by comparing a property with similar properties that have sold in similar neighborhoods, giving consideration to other factors possibly affecting market value. In many communities, where assessments are maintained at a uniform percentage of 100, your assessment is market value. In other words, your assessed value would equal market value. If your community is assessing at a fractional percentage of market value, your assessment should be based upon the percentage being used throughout the community. For instance, if the market value of your home is $100,000, and your community is assessing at 30 percent of market value, your assessment should be $30,000.




What happens during a reassessment?


The purpose of the reassessment is to ensure that all properties are assessed fairly at a uniform level of assessment. (Typically, assessments are adjusted to 100 percent of market value at the time of a reassessment.) To analyze the real estate market, the assessor will review recent property sales and other indicators. All assessments in the municipality will be reviewed to determine where assessments should be increased, decreased or remain the same. This may or may not include visual re-inspection of some or all of the parcels. Mailers may be sent to homeowners asking them to correct/update the information on their property. Those whose assessments are adjusted will receive notification in the mail.




Does New York State require reassessments?


New York State's Real Property Tax Law addresses the issue of assessment equity. While it doesn't require assessments to be at 100 percent of market value, it does establish a standard that assessments be fair at a uniform percentage of market value. However, there is no statutory mechanism for enforcement of adherence to that standard. Employees of the State Office of Real Property Tax Services do consult with municipal officials and recommend steps to provide fair assessments, and the agency does administer State Aid programs to provide incentives for reassessments. Beyond those steps, the role of ORPTS is largely an advisory one.





Contesting Your Assessment

How do I know that the assessor has the correct information about my property?


Because the information about your property will be used to determine your assessment, it is in your best interest to make sure that your assessor's data is correct for your property. You can check with your assessor's office to receive a listing of the information pertaining to your property.




When will I know my new assessment?


Based upon the available information about your property, your assessor will estimate the market value of your property. A notice then will be sent informing you of your new assessment. If you have any questions or disagree with the new assessment, you should arrange for an informal conference at your assessor's office to review the information on which the value is based. If the assessment official(s) feel that a mistake was made (or there is any other reason to question the accuracy of the assessment), the assessment will be amended. Only when your assessor is convinced that all the property assessments are as accurate as possible will they be placed on the tentative assessment roll.




What is the Informal Review Process?


The Assessor's Office will continue to offer property owners the opportunity to discuss their assessment on an informal basis. If you feel your assessment is incorrect then you must provide the Assessor with reasonable information, based on market sales, that supports your opinion of market value. To make an appointment, please contact our office.




What is a valid sale?


Valid property sales are considered arm's-length transactions between a willing buyer and a willing seller, both having full knowledge of the facts and neither being under any compulsion to act. New York State defines an arm's-length transaction as a real estate transaction in the open market freely arrived at by normal negotiations without undue pressure on either the buyer or the seller.




How do I Compare Properties?


In comparing properties to yours, it is important to remember that location, style, age and size are critical to the comparison process. You should review sales of similar homes in the same general area and of similar size, and make your adjustments from the sale price of that home. Waterfront properties should be compared with other Waterfront properties. If you are comparing other assessments of properties that have not sold, don't forget to check the data and make the necessary adjustments.




What if I disagree with the assessment on the tentative roll?


While the roll is tentative, you still have the ability to meet informally with your assessor about your assessment. If at the end of such a conversation, you still feel you are over-assessed based upon the market value of your home, you have the right to file for formal review of your assessment.




What is the Formal Review Process?


The Board of Assessment Review meets the fourth Tuesday of May (Grievance Day) each year to hear complaints on assessments. Written application to the Board of Review must be made on or before Grievance Day on forms prescribed by the New York State Office of Real Property Services.





New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. www.tax.ny.gov

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