Westchester is number 1, yeah!...in real estate taxes
April 23, 2012 - Front Section
As for the basic steps within the process, they are loosely defined as follows: 1. Read tax bill, 2. Kick the dog (just kidding), take a seat, put your eyeglasses on and read tax bill again (just to make sure), 3. Wave a finger of your choice in the air and scream "We are number one!" 4. Find the section of your tax bill that states, "Your taxes are based on the market value of i.e. $200,000," 5. Ascertain whether or not your actual market value is lower than the bill's stated value. 6. If the broker/appraiser opinion is lower than the town's stated value then you may have a case. The rest of the process includes some time-consuming and often frustrating steps. The property owner or representative must complete the confusing NYS RP-524 form and submit it along with the proof to the assessor. This can be submitted and discussed with the assessor in person or just hand delivered. After a few months a determination is made and sent via mail. If a decrease has been awarded, and the property owner is satisfied, the process ends there. If a partial or no reduction has been granted, the decision can be appealed at the county level and a small claims court date is set for arbitration. I know what you're thinking, "good times" right?
Many property owners select to avoid the personal confrontation, anxiety, and tedium of the process and hire a grievance company or attorney to act in their interest. Fees usually range from 50% to 75% of the first years savings, and some charge and additional 10% to 20% for the second year. To go it alone or hire a representative depends on the property owner and is mostly an issue of personal preference. Sometimes the "powers that be" are reasonable, and other times we are forced to "fight city hall," but either way it is a property owner's legal right to challenge what they think is unfair.
Anthony Sarro is the owner of www.e-TaxReductions.com, Bronxville, N.Y.