Spring has sprung and so has tax grievance season in Westchester. That’s when homeowners come out of the woodwork with dreams of reducing their property taxes. While the filing deadline has passed for the villages, the deadline for the towns and most cities in Westchester is just a few short months away on June 16, 2015.
Yet, the landscape is different this year and commonplace reductions will not be as easily won as in past years. The reason is that many municipalities undertook market re-assessment projects in recent years: Mamaroneck in 2013; Scarsdale in 2014; and Ossining this year for the first time in 43 years. The revaluations have resulted in a seismic shift with lower tax bills for some and shockingly higher assessments for others. The reality is that other than the rare exception, your property’s assessed value is now closer to the realized market value if your town has just undergone the reassessment process.
The process is easy and costs minimal compared to the savings which are often realized. To file at the local level costs nothing. Tax grievance attorneys generally charge a contingency fee, meaning that you pay nothing if your taxes are not reduced. The only initial expense is the appraisal which must be done, generally less than $600 depending on your location.
Many homeowners try to employ self-help in filing the grievance application, but it’s worth retaining an attorney from the start. If your application is denied then the tax grievance attorney will file a court appeal on your behalf if he or she is already on board.
It is also important to keep in mind that most municipalities in Westchester base your taxes on the prior year’s assessment, so if your town’s grievance deadline is June 16th for the 2015 tax roll, any reduction will not be realized until your 2016 taxes. Therefore, don’t delay because prospective savings are still a year away.
Your taxes will not increase simply because you file a grievance application and lower property taxes can be a great asset if trying to sell your house in Westchester or anywhere else in the New York market.
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