COVID-19 and 2020 Property Tax Grievances
COVID-19 has affected all of us in many ways including how a property owner can grieve their assessment. No longer can we have an informal meeting in person with the assessor or Board of Assessment Review.
The Governor of New York has issued an Executive Order (202-22) stating two changes that impact this year's property tax calendar: 1) a new date of June 1 for when Tentative Assessment Rolls are required to be posted and 2) the possible subsequent delay of the date when assessment complaints may be made.
It is very important that you check your town's assessment calendar to see if your Tentative Roll has or has not been posted — it has in many towns — and if the date for the Board of Assessment Review in your town has been rescheduled.
Article 5 of the Real Property Tax Law, and analogous provisions of any other general or special laws that require a tentative assessment roll to be filed on or before June 1, 2020, to allow the tentative and final assessment rolls to be filed, at local option, up to 30 days later than otherwise allowable, to allow an assessing unit to set a date for hearing assessment complaints that is at least 21 days after the filing of the tentative roll, to allow notice of the filing of the tentative roll to be published solely online so long as the date for hearing complaints is prominently displayed, to suspend in-person inspection of the tentative roll, and to allow local Boards of Assessment Review to hear complaints remotely by conference call or similar service, provided that complainants can present their complaints through such service and the public has the ability to view or listen to such proceeding;
Direct Links to 2020 Tentative Roll online
To help you find find this information online for an individual town or village, which can be challenging, we have posted a new resource on where to find this information.
It also may be beneficial to refer to our website under "Resources" for recommended options in preparing your grievance.
The following suggested procedure may help property owners obtain a fair outcome in grieving their assessment.
Informal Meeting with the Assessor:
This can be done in two ways.
1. A phone conversation with the assessor. The property owner will need to explain and prove their grievance without any paper evidence. This is okay but the property owner may not receive a favorable decision due to the interpretation of information only by phone.
2. Mailing or emailing of evidence to the assessor. Make a complete copy of your grievance and mail it to your local assessor, or scan and email it if your assessor accepts that. If mailing by US Postal Service, we recommend sending all documents by certified mail so that you know it was received. If emailing it, ask for a reply that it was received. To be on the safe side call the assessor and let them know you are either mailing or emailing the information. Then set up a phone appointment with the assessor to discuss your grievance after he or she has been able to review it. This may reduce misinterpretation and produce a more favorable outcome for you, the property owner.
If a satisfactory agreement with the assessor cannot be reached the next step normally would be to make an appointment with the local Board of Assessment Review and filling out the RP-524 form.
Even with the COVID-19 changes, the form will still need to be filled out and mailed to the assessor or a member of the local Board of Assessment Review before the posted Grievance Day. You can find the form on our website with the instructions on how to fill it out.
Meeting with the Board of Assessment Review:
This is very similar to the Informal Meeting with the assessor only the paper evidence is much more important.
Boards of Assessment Review can do their job better when the evidence is written down and before them.
If supporting material is handed in to the Assessor's Office for the assessor or board, have it time stamped and get a receipt for the material received. Always save a copy for yourself. See our other recommendations above on emailing or mailing information in advance to support your grievance.
When the discussion between the Board of Assessment Review and the property owner, which now has to be done by phone, many critical items may be missed.
When a grievance is prepared properly and submitted before the appointment, the Board of Assessment Review can have time to examine the grievance and prepare questions ahead of time for the property owner. A more accurate decision on the assessment can then be reached.
Boards of Assessment Review recommend the property owner be present at Grievance Day in case questions arise during the meeting so the Board can ask the questions to the property owner if needed.
Before you meet before the board, by phone or via some form of videoconferencing, ask your assessor for details on how they are handling this new format for review so you know what to expect.
If you are doing it via ZOOM, WEB EX, GoToMeeting or some other online video conferencing, be sure you have this set up on your computer in advance, know how it works and test it. If you are not comfortable with the process ask what other options you may have. There is an audio-only option for videoconferencing, where you can hear and talk to everyone but there is no video.
If a property owner grieves only by phone to the assessor it should be recorded some how. Be sure to ask how this is being recorded so there is a record of your grievance.
Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR)
At this time, to the best of our knowledge, no decisions have been made on Small Claims Assessment Review appointments. All forms will still need to be filed as per normal. You can find these forms on our website.
We will continue to update this page as this situation changes.
If you have specific questions or comments please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org