Dolgetta Law

Our High Property Taxes – Do Our Assessors Make up the Rules?

Approximately two years ago our lower Hudson Valley market was impacted by negative publicity indicating that Westchester and Rockland County property tax assessments were amongst the five highest in the nation. The publicity was based upon census data used by the Tax Foundation and was reported in the New York Times. It reflected real estate taxes paid from 2006-2008 and showed that the median property tax bill of Westchester County residents was $8,404.00, the highest in the nation.

Tax Grievance and Tax Certiorari Proceedings

The terms “tax grievance” and “tax certiorari proceeding” refer to proceedings used to review and contest a real property tax assessment on a particular parcel of real property. There are two levels of formal review: (1) administrative review; and (2) judicial review. The administrative review process must be initiated first. A homeowner must file a form (RP-524) with the municipality’s Board of Assessment Review (“B.A.R.” or “Board of Assessment Review”). Most municipalities in the Hudson Valley have a B.A.R. with which a tax grievance is filed. Municipalities that do not have their own assessment roll, do not have their own Board of Assessment Review. A property owner can nevertheless file a tax grievance. The parcel will be covered under the greater municipality’s assessment roll and that municipality’s B.A.R. So for example, the Village of Port Chester does not have its own assessment roll nor a Board of Assessment Review. Properties in Port Chester fall under the Town of Rye’s (not the City of Rye’s) assessment roll and B.A.R. The B.A.R. then makes a determination as to the validity of the tax grievance application for properties in the Town of Rye including the Village of Port Chester.

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