HEY ANN – Every year it seems I am paying more and more taxes and no new services to justify them. I have heard about grieving your taxes with the town. Is it worth the effort?
Taxes are the bane of our existence and like the old expression says, there is nothing guaranteed except death and taxes. The big problem in our communities is that there is very little commercial or industrial property generating tax revenue. The burden falls on the shoulders of home owners. Each year, these small municipalities have increases in expenses, most mandated by the government and we are the ones who have to pay.
Grievance Day, the one day a year when we can go before the Town Boards with documents showing the value of our property is lower than the new assessment, is usually disappointing. I have found hiring an attorney to represent the home owner is usually very effective. The attorney appears at grievance day and, as a rule, has no better luck. Then part two of the process kicks in where the attorney can represent you before an independent arbitrator to plead your case. That is where the best result is obtained. If the assessment is excessive, the adjustment can be made then. There is a third step if you are not satisfied and that is for your attorney to appeal to the NYState Supreme Court. The municipalities do not want to hire attorneys for that appearance so they are usually reasonable in accepting the arbitrated number.
There is a downside to grieving taxes. If you continually reduce the assessment to reduce your taxes and, at some time put your house on the market for what you and your agent feel is a correct price, you may find a disconnect. If there is a wide difference between your assessment and your listing price, buyers will feel the house is overpriced and you will limit the inquiries. I have a listing in mind right now where the homeowner had, over a period of years, reduced the assessment and it is now almost $300,000 below the listing price for the house. No wonder they have had only 2 showings in a year. You can guess what advice I have given them. So, be careful of the double edged sword.
Please feel free to ask me about your property. There is no obligation and a free market evaluation is always a good way to start your planning whether for now, for the future or for estate planning. It will be my pleasure to be a resource for you.
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