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Arleen E. Goscinski, ASA

Challenging Your Property Taxes

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Property taxes on Long Island seem to be rising at an alarming rate. This becomes more apparent at the end of the year, with the arrival of the new tax bills. Are you paying too much? You have the right to challenge your assessment, and, if warranted, get relief.

What determines property taxes?
Property taxes are based on the assessed value of your home. This value is multiplied by the tax rate to determine the taxes you pay. Simply stated, Assessment x Tax Rate = Property Taxes. An assessed value of 3,600 with a tax rate (per $100) of 138.358, for example, would result in taxes of $4,980.89. Keep in mind, that the tax rate is a given. Your assessment, however, can be challenged and changed.

How is assessed value determined?
The assessed value is based on a percentage of a your home's market value. Market value is subjective. In this case, it represents the assessor's opinion. His or her opinion may be inaccurate due to a number of variables, including falling property values, assessor error, unforeseen market influences, etc. If the market value is wrong, the assessed value and the property taxes based on it are wrong, too.

Challenge the assessment, reduce your taxes.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to stay that way. If you challenge and win, the assessment will be lowered and your taxes reduced. You can do this yourself -- the NYS Office of Real Property Services has the forms and instructions -- or you can hire an attorney or tax grievance specialist -- like NY Property Tax Reduction for Nassau County or Elizabeth B. Roche, Suffolk County Property Tax Consultant for Suffolk -- to do it for you. You need to act quickly though, as time is limited.

The weapon of choice: An appraisal.
Regardless of who files it, your grievance should include an expert opinion of the market value of your home. An appraisal report developed by a NYS certified appraiser is considered by most to be the best evidence available to support your challenge.

Sometimes by spending money, you can save more money. That's not a guarantee, of course. The only guarantee is higher taxes if you do nothing.

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Arleen E. Goscinski, ASA, New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser
New York City, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk New York Real Estate Appraisals
149 Ketay Drive South  East Northport, NY 11731-5031
Phone: 631-368-0519  Fax: 631-486-6360