Unequal Assessment

Grieving by Unequal Assessment is very hard to win.

Of the four ways property owners can grieve their assessments, grieving by Unequal Assessment is by far the hardest to prove and win.


The requirements to prove on the
RP-524 form are as follows:

1. The assessment is unequal for the following reason. (check a or b)

a. ___  The assessed value is at a higher percentage of value than the assessed value of other real property on the assessment roll.

b. ___  The assessed value of real property improved by a one, two or three family residence is at a higher percentage of full(market) value than the assessed value of other residential property on the assessment roll or at a higher percentage of full (market) value of all real property on the assessment roll.

2.  The complainant believes this property should be assessed at ____% of full value based on one or more of the following (check one or more):

a. ___  The latest State equalization rate for the city, town or village in which the property is located is ____%.

b. ___  The latest residential assessment ratio established for the city, town or village in which the residential property is located. Enter latest residential assessment ratio only if property is improved by a one, tow or three family residence ____%.

c. ___  Statement of the assessor or other local official that property has been assessed at ____%.

d. ___  Other (explain on attached sheet).

 

3.  Value of property from Part one #7:    $____________

4.  Complainant believes the assessment should be reduced to:   $_____________

The RP-524 Instructions form goes into more detail for what a property owner must prove.

Form RP-524-Ins:3/09:General Information and Instructions


Unequal Assessment

1.  Generally, if assessments in your city, town or village are not made at full value, State law requires that they be made at a uniform percentage of value. If you believe that your property is assessed at a higher percentage of value than the average of all other properties on the same assessment roll, you may claim unequal assessment. For example, if you prove the value of your property is $200,000.00, an assessment of $150,000.00 would show that your property is assessed at 75% of the market value. If you prove that all other property on the average is assessed at 50%, you may claim a reduction of your assessment to $100,000.00. 


2.  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. For example, if you prove the value of your property is $200,000.00, an assessment of $100,000.00 would show that it is assessed at 50% of market value. If you prove that all other residential property is assessed on the average at 25%, you may claim a reduction of your assessment to $50,000.00.


3.  To demonstrate that your property is unequally assessed, you must first establish the full value of your property as indicated above. Note that the State law now requires that the assessment roll display 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. To establish the average percentage of value at which all other property is assessed on the assessment roll, the following information may be useful:

a. The uniform percentage of value appearing on the assessment roll;

b. The latest State equalization rate or residential assessment ratio for your assessing unit (city, town or village), which is available from your assessor, County Director of Real Property Tax Services, or the Office of Real Property Tax Services;

c.  Market values and assessments of a sample of other properties on the same assessment roll; 

d.  Purchase price and assessment of other properties recently sold; and

e.  Statements of the assessor or other local official.

Once you have established the value of your property and the average percentage of value at which all other properties are assessed, you must apply the percentage to the value of your property and then compare the result to your assessment. If the result is lower than your assessment, you may request that your assessment be reduced to that lower amount.

The difficulty in proving Unequal Assessment is that you need to prove your assessment is unequal to the average percentage of value to all other properties on the same assessment roll. This is very time consuming and almost impossible to prove with thousands of other properties being on the same assessment roll. Not only do you have that hurdle but the Equalization Rate, the RAR (residential assessment ratio) and the uniform percentage of value are decided by the State of New York, not the assessor.

Excessive Assessment usually provides a much better chance of winning your grievance.


If you are still determined to grieve by Unequal Assessment, there is a process you can try.

You will need to check box 1b on the RP-524 form. The important thing to note here is that the wording states "or" in the requirements. Everything pertaining to your grievance is before the word "or".

It is the last paragraph for Unequal Assessment that gives a property owner a chance to win their grievance. It states:

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. Once you have established the average percentage at which other residential properties are assessed, you must apply this percentage to the value of your property. If the result is lower than your assessment, you may request that your assessment be reduced to that lower amount.

The important part of this statement is that it says "other" residential properties, not "all.”  This means you could use as few as three comparable properties to your property to achieve a "percentage of value.” Your comparable properties are still restricted to the same assessment roll. (They are not for Excessive Assessment). You must first establish an estimated full market value. This can be done by using a guide published by the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance and the Office of Real Property Tax Services titled: "How to Estimate the Market Value of Your Home."

In selecting comparable properties it is important to note that they no longer need to be from recent sales. New York State law requires that the assessment roll displays the assessor's estimate of the full market value of your home. Assessments made from recent sales is to achieve the estimated full market value of a property for that current assessment year. Therefore if an assessor displays the estimated full market value of every property on the current tax roll, it is the same as if all properties were sold that year. Be sure to use the estimated full market value and not assessed value due to the Equalization Rate.

Make adjustments to your comparable properties by using these helpful tools.

Comparable Sales Analysis Adjustment Formula 2021 to Download - PDF
Blank Comparable Analysis Chart (use the full market values from the 2021 final assessment roll)

Once you have made the adjustments and followed the instructions on the 2021 Comparable Sales Analysis Formula, you can now calculate the "percentage of value" for your property.

By proving a higher percentage of value, it will not automatically guarantee you a winning outcome on your grievance. You must still convince the assessor in an informal meeting that you are not required to prove your higher percentage of value against the average of "all" but only "other" properties on the same assessment roll. You must also convince the assessor that comparable properties are no longer restricted to recent sales but can also come from the estimated full market value on the current tax roll. If that does not work, you will then need to prove it to the local Board of Assessment Review who may not know the requirements and therefore just agree with the assessor for an easy way out. Finally if you decide to go to Small Claims Assessment Review, you will need to prove it to the Hearing Officer. Even though it is clearly stated in writing on the RP-524 form and instructions, it may not be automatically understood as such.  

Unequal Assessment is not impossible to prove. However, it is a much higher mountain to climb than Excessive Assessment.

Updated August 2021