5 Ways to Grieve Your Assessment

If you own a one-, two- or three-family residence there are five ways to grieve your assessment. Many assessors would tell you there are only four ways but they do not include the Informal Meeting with the assessor. The amount of time spent and the amount of reduction in assessment generally go hand in hand and are up to each individual property owner.

The reduction you seek in assessment is not just for one year. It could be for as long as you own the property and amount to a substantial savings over the years.

#1: Informal Meeting with the Assessor

This is the first, easiest and least time-consuming of all ways to grieve your property tax assessment.

  • If you are not satisfied with your assessment or just have a question, ask your local assessor. Make a phone call or stop in during office hours to make an appointment for an informal meeting to discuss your questions about your assessment and how it was achieved. There may be a simple explanation as to why it is correct or incorrect.
  • If you have a recent appraisal of the property and are happy with the appraisal, provide that as a secondary source of Market Value. Be sure the appraisal has been done by a licensed appraiser.
  • If you purchased your home recently, provide the price you paid for the property. The property must have been purchased by an "Arm's Length Sale." This would be one that was advertised on the market for sale and not purchased through a relative.

Find your local assessor   Then click Search for an Officials or Company's Name

If questions about your assessment cannot be resolved through an informal meeting they must be grieved in a different manner. They must be taken to a Board of Assessment Review.

This requires more time and effort on the behalf of the property owner. The more time and research you invest in your grievance, the better reward you may receive. One of the biggest challenges facing property owners is that in the eyes of the Real Property Tax System the assessor is always presumed to be correct.

It is up to the property owner to prove the assessor is incorrect in your property's assessment.

For the next grievances outline below, the property owner must fill out the form RP-524 and return it to the local assessor or a member of the local Board of Assessment Review prior to the Board of Assessment Review begins their meeting on Grievance Day.

See Challenging Your Assessment for tips on how to complete form RP-524

Form RP-524

Form RP-524 General Instructions

#2: Unequal Assessment or #3: Excessive Assessment?

Arguing by Unequal Assessment or Excessive Assessment should not make any difference although Assessors and Hearing Officers may tell you it does.

  • Both require you to establish your property's full market value.
  • Both require you to establish a higher percentage of value compared to other residential properties on the same assessment roll.
  • It may be easier however, to argue by Excessive Assessment than Unequal Assessment.

#2 Unequal Assessment

Unequal Assessments deal with a uniform percentage of value. If assessments in your city, town or village are not at 100%, State law requires them to be at a uniform percentage of value. (Equalization Rate)

Assessors will point this out in the directions on the RP-524 Form Instructions for Unequal Assessment:

  • #3 "To demonstrate that your property is unequally assessed, you must first establish the full value of the property as indicated above. Note that the State law now requires that the assessment roll display's the assessor's estimate of the full value of your property. Then you must establish the average percentage of value at which all other properties are assessed on the same assessment roll". This is almost impossible. The assessor may fail to mention another option you have.
  • #2: "If you own a one, two or three family residence and you believe the property is assessed at a higher proportion of full market value than other residential property on the assessment roll, you may claim unequal assessment." (Please note the significant difference between the two. #3 states "all other properties" which would mean every property listed on the same roll. #2 states: "other residential property," which could mean one or only a few other residential properties. This is the same as Excessive Assessment and can be proven by using comparable properties and adjusting in the differences to make them the same if sold. And this is recommended by the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance and the Office of Real Property Tax Services in their publication of "How to Estimate the Market Value of Your Home.”

Although you can prove both requirements for unequal assessment of a lower estimated full market value of your property and a higher percentage of value than others on the same assessment roll for one, two or three family residences, you will most likely be denied any reduction in assessment by the Board of Assessment Review or the Hearing Officer in Small Claims because they may not fully understand the laws of grieving by Unequal Assessment.\

See: Grieving by Unequal Assessment

See How to Estimate the Market Value of Your Home:  Printable PDF version

#3 Excessive Assessment

Between Unequal Assessment and Excessive Assessment, Excessive Assessment may be the best way to grieve your assessment and have a chance of winning. Excessive Assessment has three different parts - these are explained on the RP-524 Instruction form.

  1. Overvaluation
  2. Incorrect Partial Exemption
  3. Excessive Transition Assessment  

The most common use is Overvaluation. On the RP-524 Instruction form it states:

"If you believe the assessed value of your property is greater than the full market value of the property, you may claim an excessive assessment. To establish the full market value of your property, you should supply the kind of information set forth above."

(The information set forth above is for Unequal Assessment). Again, the property owner must prove an estimated full market value lower than that of the assessor and a higher percentage of value than others on the same assessment roll. This requires more time and effort than an Informal Meeting with the assessor.

Grieving by Excessive Assessment - Overvaluation could be the preferred choice. See our section under "Resources" titled "Grieving by Excessive Assessment." It is a step-by-step process to show you what you need to prove for the requirements of Excessive Assessment.

In addition we have added two case studies from actual grievances for your review.

Case Study 1
Case Study 2
Case Study 3
Case Study #4

#4 Unlawful Assessment

This is clearly defined on the RP-524 Instruction form.

#5 Misclassification

This is clearly defined on the RP-524 Instruction form.

SCAR (Small Claims Assessment Review)

If you did not receive satisfaction from the assessor or Board of Assessment Review, do not give up.

You can see this shown the Case Studies above

You have another option of taking your grievance to Small Claims. Small Claims Assessment Review  does not require you to have an attorney present. The only ones present are the Hearing Officer, the assessor and you. The cost is $30.00 and requires the mailing or delivering of several copies of the form RPTL 730-A as explained in the links below.

SCAR Fillable Petition

Updated Feb 2, 2024