Real Estate: Filing a Tax Grievance Can Save a Bundle

May 19, 2020 is the deadline to file a property tax grievance in Suffolk County, including the Town of Huntington. We cut our coupons, shop for sales and specials but often time we simply don’t focus on where a lot of our hard earned money goes to:  Property Taxes.  When I speak to property owners and comment that their taxes appear to be over assessed based on a comparable market analysis of their home, the most common reasons they cite for not filing a grievance are:

  • Fear that the town will have to inspect the home
  • Fear they will jeopardize their STAR program status
  • Lack of knowledge or understanding of the grievance process

Filing a tax grievance is the only method to reduce your assessed valuation which in turn reduces your actual taxes paid.  The assessed value set by the Town Assessor is the key factor in determining your property’s value.  The Town/County will not voluntarily reduce your assessed valuation. To allay homeowners concerns, the town does not come into the home to inspect it nor does any application compromise your Star Program status. Now, let understand the process so that’s not a hindrance to capturing important savings.

There are two ways to implement a tax grievance.  You can file the grievance directly yourself or hire a professional tax griever, which typically charge 50% of the first years’ tax savings with no upfront fees. Doing it professionally is on a contingent basis; that is if they are not successful there is no charge. Professional companies will usually do their own assessment before taking on the grievance to insure that their time is well spent on cases that have a solid chance of being approved. The general timeframe for filing a complaint starts on May 1st and ends on the third Tuesday in May of the given year; for 2020 it is May 19th. No consideration will be given for late filings and the homeowner will have to wait a full year to file losing yet another year of real dollars.

So what are the steps necessary to see if the Town’s property assessment is more than the market value of your home?  Step 1: Review your Town of Huntington tax bill, easily accessible on huntingtonny.gov and see the Total Value number. Every year the Town publishes the Residential Assessment Ratio (RAR) which is the key denominator to determine the Assessed Valuation.  The RAR is adjusted annually for NYS in the spring (around April). It is currently .65%.  So mathematically you divide the Total Value on your tax bill by the current RAR or .65% (.0065) to see where the Town assesses your property.  Step 2: You have to determine what the market valuation of your home is. The potential market value of your home can be determined by a) recent sale, b) real property appraisal, c) comparable market analysis prepared by a licensed real estate agent. Step 3: If the market value of your home as determined in Step 2 is less than the Town’s Assessed Value as determined in Step 1 you have a good case for a tax grievance.

The time is perfect to review your property taxes and take the steps necessary if needed to file a grievance.  The money you save annually could be the impetus for a long awaited summer vacation, home improvements or funding upcoming education expenses.  Remove the fear, be empowered by the process and hopefully you’ll soon enjoy the financial benefits of a successful tax grievance.

Patricia J. Bretone
Associate Real Estate Broker
Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty
C. 917-270-3715
187 Park Avenue
Huntington, NY 11743
631.427.6600 x 126

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