Unequal Assessment - What It Is and How to Document Your Grievance

By definition what is Unequal Assessment? 

You can claim unequal assessment if assessments in your city, town or village are not at 100% of market value and your property is assessed at a higher percentage of value than the average of all other properties or all other residential properties on the same assessment roll.

Assessors, Boards of Assessment Review and Small Claims Hearing Officers will not always take the word of a taxpayer as the only proof of the grievance. 

Information on the grievance property or any of the comparison properties should also have documented proof. Information taken from the County website, recent sales and photos need to be organized as well as documented. A taxpayer may believe the more information and proof they have would improve the chance of receiving a reduction in their assessment. With past experience, this is not the case. Assessors, Boards of Assessment Review and Hearing Officers can be overwhelmed. 

When overwhelmed with documentation, they tend not to read all of it and most of the work done by the taxpayer has been for nothing.

This is a recommended way of preparing a grievance if a taxpayer is grieving by Unequal Assessment and using the Comparable Property Analysis approach. 

Do not let any assessor, Board of Assessment Review or Hearing Officer deny you as a taxpayer an opening statement. It is important for the Assessor, Board of Assessment Review or Hearing Officer to understand the basis and Real Property Tax Laws that pertain to the grievance. 

The opening statement should include the following: 

1.     First and foremost, clearly state to the assessor, Board of Assessment Review or Hearing Officer what you as the taxpayer believe is your property's estimated full market value and higher percentage of value. Also state you have the proof to back up your estimated full market value and higher percentage of value. (This is the value from the average full market values of the comparison properties after being compared equally on the analysis chart)

2.     Read these statements aloud and be sure they understand them:

- The grounds for the grievance and only requirements needed to be proven in grieving by Unequal Assessment are a lower estimated Full Market Value than the assessor or a higher percentage of value than others on the same assessment roll. This is stated on the RP-524 instruction form, Part 3, Section A. (If questioned, provide a copy of the instructions with the following areas highlighted) Key words in #2 are "either" and "or". Key words in the last paragraph are "you also have the option."

- If you own a one, two or three family residence and if you believe that it is assessed at either a higher    proportion of full (market) value than other residential property on the assessment roll or at a higher proportion of full (market) value than the assessed valuation of all real property on the assessment roll, you may claim an unequal assessment. Last Paragraph: In the case of one, two or three family residential real property, you also have the option of proving that the percentage of full value represented by your assessment is higher than the average percentage at which other residential properties are assessed on the same assessment roll.

- The comparable property information comes from the local County website that is supplied by the assessor. Therefore, as it is with the assessor, it is also presumed to be correct and accurate.

- New York State & the Office of Real Property Services only require three comparable properties or recent sales for a taxpayer to estimate their own property's Full Market Value or a higher percentage of value. This is found on the New York State Taxation & Finance website: How to estimate the market value of your home - Department of   (Have a copy of the pamphlet for them to see)

- The Comparable Property or Sales Analysis approach is recommended and approved by New York State Department of Taxation & Finance and the Office of Real Property Tax Services for the estimation of full market value and a higher percentage of value. (Same link)

- The Estimated Full Market Value in this grievance is the average of ten comparable or recent sale properties. Three times more than required by Real Property Tax Law.

- The estimated values used for property comparisons in the Comparable Property Analysis approach are more accurate and extensive than required by the Office of Real Property Tax Services and NYS.

Tips

Since you will be collecting considerable information, it may be helpful to purchase two three-ring binders with sleeves to store and arrange your information. One binder will be for the assessor, Board of Assessment Review or Hearing Officer to view. The other is for your files.

The pages in the binder should be arranged this way:

·      Table of Contents.

·      Your estimation of the full market value and higher percentage of value of the grievance property. Only have this information on this page in large print.

·      The Comparable Property Analysis chart. (found under Resources - Grieving by Unequal Assessment on this website) This can show either comparable properties or comparable recent sales. It is possible and recommended to have both on separate charts. Comparable Properties uses the estimated current full market value listed on the County website by the assessor. Recent Sales uses the recent sale price of the comparable properties. Do not use the same properties for both "comparable" and "recent sales" on the charts. You can find recent sales on the Internet by typing in "Recently Sold Homes for (your town or city, New York).

·      A photo of the exterior of the grieving property and the information provided from the County Property ID website. (Direct links to Real Property Tax Data by County on this website)

·      Photos of the exterior of each comparison property (ten) and the information provided from the County Property ID website. List these in the same order as listed on the Comparable Property Analysis chart.

·      Supporting Documents (RP-524 instruction form, How to Estimate the Market Value of Your Home PDF, Real Property Volume 9, Opinions of Council SBEA No.11, RPTL 522 on Unequal Assessment)

For move information on how to grieve by Unequal Assessment see: 

"Resources - Grieving by Unequal Assessment" on this website.

Updated Feb 20, 2019