The property tax reassessment here in Irondequoit has aggravated many homeowners and with good reason. Town leadership announced some time ago that New York State deemed our town about 7 percent underassessed. Unfortunately, many homeowners have been hit with assessment increases of double digits, with some seeing as much as a 25 percent increase compared to last year’s assessment.
Town leadership offered a rather disingenuous narrative around the theme of “everyone paying their fair share,” a message poorly received by people whose property values remained stagnant — or even declined — yet they have been assessed with increases. There are so many reasons some homes might decline in value — for instance, many senior homeowners live on fixed incomes, and have had neither the money nor the urge to invest in home updates or elective maintenance.
We already have the highest tax rate in Monroe County, so it truly behooves property owners to challenge their property assessment now if there is a widening gap between the assessed value and the actual market value. A higher assessment means you will literally pay more in taxes on all your taxes — town, county, school district, etc. — keep in mind no assurances have been offered to residents that tax rates will be reduced to keep residents’ tax bills at parity with last year!
Perhaps equally importantly, being over-assessed will also make your home harder to sell. Why? As annoying as it is to pay high taxes, prospective buyers avoid a home that is over-assessed as they will then have to pay higher-than-necessary taxes, and they will have to go through the hassle of contesting the assessment. So your house will probably sell for less if it is over-assessed.
On or about May 1, the town will be releasing the 2018 Tentative Tax Roll. Compare your tentative assessment against an objective determination of your home’s market value. More than a few thousand dollars difference? If so, prepare to file a formal grievance by May 22 and go in for a formal hearing.
Contesting your assessment needs to be an objective, unemotional presentation of how your property compares to others, including both relative market value and assessed value. Analytically determine and present what your assessed value should realistically be. It is critical to compare likes with likes: comparing yours to homes of similar style and size, within the same district as your home, based on homes sold within the past few years.
From there, document the attributes on which your home may not compare favorably to the example homes, such as lack of central air conditioning, outdated kitchen/bath, unaddressed property damage or other factors that significantly reduce market value. Details, facts and figures are key. Photos of condition and problem areas tell a thousand words.
The correct forms and recent home sales information can be found on the town’s website in the assessor’s section. Supplement that information with information from the Monroe County Real Property Portal, particularly the assessed value of the comparable reference properties. Additional resources can be found at www.taxmypropertyfairly.com.