Suffolk County Property Downturn – Part 2

Suffolk County Real Estate Downturn Can Be a Good Thing continued:

6. How can I learn more about my assessment?
Suffolk properties are assessed by each town. Your Market Value is located on your tax bill.

7. I think my assessment is wrong, now what?
If you think your assessment is too high and you want to challenge your property’s taxes, you have a choice whether to pursue the process yourself or to hire a professional Tax Grievance Service to handle it for you.

8. What are the deadlines?
Each town in Suffolk publishes its Tentative Assessment Roll by May 1. It is then available at the local Town Assessor’s office. For the 2012 year residents may start challenging the assessment from May 1 to May 13. On May 13, each town has an assessment hearing. Each case is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Keep in mind that in Suffolk the May 13 deadline covers house values as of July 2011.

9. Should I have my home appraised before I apply?
Some tax-grievance professionals suggest not only including house photos, letters or anything else you feel will help your case, but an appraisal. When you file, you must show three comparable sales (or comps) to help determine your property value. “But there are properties selling very low because they are distressed sales [foreclosures, short sales or sales between family members],” says Clausen. He continues, “and those properties can’t be used as proof that you are over assessed.”

10. Can I grieve my property taxes online?
Yes. A company in Suffolk has an option to fill-out an online agreement or an E-sign.  The Heller & Clausen Grievance Group – www.GrieveOurTaxes.com has been successively using the E-sign system for more than a year now. “It eliminates the need to fill-out a paper agreement and can be done immediately in the comfort of your own home with no commitment,” says Bortnowsky.

11. Can I hire someone to file a property tax grievance for me?
You do not have to. Some homeowners apply themselves, however many homeowners are not comfortable with the process. They do not want to do the legwork, don’t want to be bothered, or don’t want to lose time from work if they want to appear before the assessment review board or a Small Claims Review Hearing located in the Central Islip Court Complex….For these homeowners, a property tax-reduction company may be the best way to go.

The first step in the process is making the reduction request with the Board of Assessment Review (B.A.R) in Suffolk. But once that is complete, and if your request has been denied, you still are entitled to file an appeal. The State Supreme Court’s filing fee is $30. The standard fee, according to Newsday, for using a tax-reduction company is 50 percent of the tax savings, plus an appraisal fee for that year (but only if they successfully reduce your taxes – if they do not get a reduction, there is usually no fee).

When the property assessment becomes final, those who have not settled or signed away their right to appeal can either wait until next year (you can grieve your property taxes yearly at the town level) or are able to go to the Small Claims Assessment Review, which is the housing division of the Supreme Court.

“Now, it’s the taxpayer versus the Township in Supreme Court,” says Clausen. “Both sides present evidence and a final decision is made.  Thousands of reductions are made after filing appeals and this is where I see the largest tax reductions.”

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