Commonly Asked Property Tax Questions:
A property owner calls and says “I pay too many taxes on my property.” There are two things that affect the amount of real property taxes: valuation/assessment of the property and the tax rate.
Basically, the property should not be assessed above its market value. The first question is, “Do you have an appraised value for your property, a recent sale figure, or if you were going to sell your property, what do you think that you could sell it for?” Then we can compare the estimated market value used by the assessor and the value estimates by the potential client. Since not all municipalities use 100% valuation, an explanation of the equalization rate is usually needed.
The vast majority of the calls I receive end up with the caller estimating the value at an amount higher than that used by the assessor, so there is no way to reduce the assessment. For those where the property appears to be over assessed, the next question is “Have you spoken with the assessor?” I will help them prepare for a meeting with the assessor by suggesting an appraisal, real estate broker’s price opinion, or where to find comparable properties to provide evidence of value. Most assessors are reasonable people and these matters are resolved without an attorney. In the few cases where the property is over assessed and the assessor has used an unreasonable assessment, Jacobowitz & Gubits is ready to help.
The tax rate is set by the municipality or school district. The assessed value multiplied by the tax rate gives you the amount of the taxes. In many cases, it is a matter of the tax rate being high. For example: the municipality is spending too much money. The resolution to this issue is usually political, not legal.
William E. Duquette is Senior Counsel with the firm and practices Real Estate and Banking. He can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9656 and by email.