The assessment grievance filing period for all Suffolk County towns begins on May 1, 2018 and ends on May 15, 2018, the third Tuesday in May. (Filing dates vary for village assessments within Suffolk County.) Only the property owner or someone the owner has authorized may file a property tax assessment grievance.
Just like the New York State Lottery tag line of a few years ago, “You have to be in it to win it.” If a grievance is not timely filed, the owner is precluded from later filing a lawsuit to reduce the assessment. The owner is then resigned to pay property taxes based solely on the assessor’s estimate of market value. Therefore, now is the time to consider filing a grievance.
The deadline is the same for both residential property and commercial property. The grievance form must be delivered in hand or mailed so as to be received by the deadline. Even if the grievance is mailed and postmarked before the deadline, but the grievance arrives after the deadline, the owner has lost the opportunity to grieve the assessment for this year. Emails and faxes are normally not accepted as a proper filing.
While the property owner is not required to retain an attorney to file a grievance, an attorney who has practiced assessment litigation will quickly locate the information required to file a proper grievance. With a little assistance from the property owner, the attorney can efficiently complete the grievance and serve it. An experienced attorney filing a residential grievance should have access to comparable sales. If after the grievance is filed the result is unsatisfactory, the property owner may then file a lawsuit to reduce the property assessment. But there are filing deadlines that must be met.
In valuing the property for assessment purposes, the valuation date is the preceding July 1, i.e., July 1, 2017, and taxable status date is March 1, 2018. The rationale for separating valuation date from taxable status date is to permit the assessor sufficient time to review sales data which is used to value most parcels.
Most grievances are based on either unequal assessment or excessive assessment. Both arguments assert that the owner’s property is assessed higher than all other similarly used commercial properties or similarly sized and located residential properties on the same assessment roll. The excessive assessment argument is limited to those instances where the assessed value of the property exceeds full market value of the property, as well as wrongfully denied exemptions and excessive transition assessments.
To demonstrate that property is unequally assessed, the grievant must first establish the full market value of the property. Next, the grievant must establish the average percentage of value at which all other properties are assessed on the same assessment roll. Using the mathematical formula (full market value) times (uniform percentage of value) equals assessment, the grievant can determine whether he or she is entitled to a reduction in assessment. We can assist the property owner to determine the full market value of the property and can determine the average percentage of value.
For a case evaluation contact Martin E. Valk, Esq. at (516) 780-0373 today.