What are Real Property Taxes & Assessments?

When did Property Taxes Begin?

According to "A Brief History of Property Tax by Richard Henry Carlson," some sort of real estate taxes have been in force for more than 8,000 years. The earliest known records are dated from about 6,000 B.C. The taxes then were called "bala" or "rotation."  Complaints about property taxes being too high began as early as 400 B.C.

Originally taxes went into the King's treasury. It wasn't until around 325 B.C. that property taxes were used for public improvements such as water systems, roads and ports.

Now 8,000 years later, we still complain about taxes being too high. While our tax dollars continue to go for public improvements and maintenance, the largest share goes to municipal and school employees and their benefits.

What are Real Estate Taxes?

In New York State Real Property Tax is a tax based on the value of real property. Counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, and special districts each raise money through the real property tax. The money funds schools, pays for police and fire protection, maintains roads, and funds other municipal services enjoyed by residents.

What is Property Assessment?

The Property's Assessment is based on a property’s market value, which is how much a property would sell for under normal conditions. 

Assessments are determined by an assessor, an elected or appointed local official who independently estimates the value of real property in an assessing unit. Assessing units follow municipal boundaries - county, city, town, or village. 

Assessments are often based on recent sales of comparable properties in the area. 

Assessments and taxes do not always move in the same direction. Assessments can go down and taxes can increase or vice versa.

Also see:


Understanding Your Assessment