Understanding Real Property Assessments
The amount of the assessment of real property directly impacts the amount of taxes payable on the property. Therefore, in order to lower the taxes on a parcel of property, you must obtain a reduction in the assessment of the parcel.
Technically, the assessment on a parcel of real property represents a fraction, or a percentage, of the market value of the property, which is the reason assessments within the Town of Huntington are typically low numbers. So, in order to reduce the assessment, and also the taxes, you must prove that the market value represented by the assessment is too high.
Market value is defined as the most probable price a parcel of property would sell for in a competitive and open market.
Steps to Challenging Your Real Property Assessment
The first step in the process of challenging your real property assessment is to convert the assessment of a parcel of property to its market value, bearing in mind that the assessment is a fraction, or a percentage, of the market value. Once converted, we call this the Market Value Indicated by the Assessment, or, simply, the Indicated Market Value.
This Indicated Market Value is determined by dividing the real property assessment by the Town’s 2020 Residential Assessment Ratio (RAR) of .63%. The RAR is adjusted annually by New York State and the RAR is typically set in March of each year.
Most property owners assume that the market value for assessment purposes is determined as of March 1st of each year, as this is the Taxable Status Date. However, this is incorrect. The market value for assessment purposes is determined as of the prior July 1st. Therefore, the Valuation Date used for the current 2020/21 tax year is July 1, 2019, and even if your property has increased or decreased in value since this July 1st, Valuation Date, you must continue to use the market value as of the Valuation Date.
For example, if a parcel of real property has an assessment of 4,100, the Indicated Market Value of the assessment of this property is $650,794 (4,100/.63%) as of July 1, 2019.
The next step in attempting to lower the taxes on a parcel of property is to determine the potential market value, of the property as if it was sold on the open market on July 1, 2019.
The potential market value of a parcel of real property can be determined in a variety of ways, the best of which is a recent sale price of the parcel. In the absence of a recent sale price, a real property appraisal is the next best way to determine potential market value. In the absence of a recent sale price or a real property appraisal, a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) can be prepared.
The purpose of an appraisal or CMA is to compare the sales prices of similar, or comparable, properties to the subject property being challenged. Any such appraisal or CMA must take into consideration the differences between the comparable properties and the subject property, as long as the differences have a positive or negative impact on the potential market value of the subject property. After applying the differences, an adjusted sales price of the comparable sale is arrived at. This is called the Adjusted Sales Price.
As an example, assume you are seeking to reduce the assessment on a 2,000 sq. ft. cape cod residence on Smith Street. Ideally, a good comparable sale would be the sale of another 2,000 sq. ft. cape cod residence on Smith Street, so that the sale price of the comparable residence on Smith Street could realistically be used to estimate the potential market value (or sale price) of your property on Smith Street. Unfortunately, finding such a good comparable property rarely happens.
Therefore, you must search for sold properties which are the most comparable to the property on which you are seeking to reduce the assessment, and the sale price of each such comparable property must be adjusted to reflect the differences between the comparable and the subject property.
In the example used above, assume the comparable sale on Smith Street sold for $400,000, with an in-ground swimming pool. It would be reasonable to assume that the subject, without an in-ground swimming pool, would sell for less. How much less is a function of the increased value attributable to an in-ground swimming pool. For the sake of discussion, assume a swimming pool adds $20,000 in market value to a typical residence. Therefore, the subject would have a potential market value (or sale price) of $380,000 ($400,000 - $20,000 = $380,000).
You must review each comparable, and make the appropriate adjustments to each, in order to arrive at a credible potential market value for the subject property.
Once you have determined that the potential market value of the subject property is lower than the market value indicated by the assessment, you must convert this potentially lower market value to a potential new assessment.
This is done by multiplying the lower potential market value by the RAR. In the above example, the new assessment would be 2,394 ($380,000 x .63%= 2,394).
Once you have determined that the potentially new assessment is lower than the existing assessment, you must confirm your assessment after the tentative assessment roll is filed, typically on May 1st of each year.
After the date it is filed, the tentative assessment roll containing the current assessment of your property can be viewed from a link on the Home Page of the Town of Huntington website (www.huntingtonny.gov),;
If you have any question about the assessment on your property, and if you do not have access to a computer, you can call the Assessor’s Office during normal business hours between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
Once you have determined that the potentially new assessment is lower than the current assessment as reflected on the most recently filed tentative assessment roll, you must file a complaint (often termed a “Grievance Complaint”) with the Assessor’s Office during the general complaint period, which is within a very specific and defined time-frame. For the 2020/21 tax year (taxes payable December 1, 2020 through November 30, 2021), the general filing period has ended. IMPORTANT: Except as provided below for E-Filing Procedures, no faxed or emailed copies of individual grievance complaints will be accepted by the Assessor’s Office during any complaint filing period. Original copies of the grievance complaint must be mailed or personally delivered to the Assessor’s Office at 100 Main Street, Room 100, Huntington, NY 11743, during any complaint period so as to arrive at the Assessor’s Office on or before the close of business of the applicable deadline which is the meeting date of the Board of Assessment Review. Proof of receipt by the Assessor’s Office will only be acknowledged by presenting a copy of the complaint date-stamped by the Assessor’s Office.
Grievance Complaint Filing Procedures
Bulk E-Filing Procedures (Excel List):
E-Filing procedures and protocols have been adopted by the Town of Huntington for the 2020/21 tax year for grievance complaint filing firms (attorneys and licensed tax representatives) who file grievance complaints in bulk (2 or more grievances).
To review the applicable procedures and protocols for the bulk E-Filing of grievance complaints, click here.
To review and download the required digital Excel spreadsheet, click here.
To review a copy of the Town of Huntington’s waiver of any potential defenses to the adopted E-Filing procedures, click here.
Traditional Filing Procedures (Paper Copies):
The procedure for filing grievance complaints, and all supporting paperwork, if any, in the traditional fashion (i.e. paper copies) remains the same as in past years, by submitting an original copy of the Grievance Complaint and supporting information so as to be received by the Assessor’s Office no later than 8:00 pm on Grievance Day, Tuesday, June 23, 2020. This grievance complaint paperwork can be mailed to the Town of Huntington Assessor’s Office, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, New York 11743, or personally delivered to the white mailbox outside the main entrance to the Town Hall Building at 100 Main Street, Huntington, New York.
However, for attorneys and licensed tax representatives who desire to file paper copies of grievance complaints in bulk, if the number of complaint filed at one time exceeds the size of a typical mailing envelope, you must call the Assessor’s Office (631-351-3226) to make an appointment to file these bulk grievance complaints.
The white depository mailbox available to receive the grievance complaints is not large enough for oversized envelopes or boxes of grievance complaints. Upon calling the office, we will make other arrangements for bulk filers of grievance complaints to be delivered to the Assessor’s office. Overnight service companies (FedEx, UPS and the like) are not required to have an appointment.
Grievance Complaints (E-Filed or paper copies) will not be accepted before June 1, 2020.
Grievance Day Procedures - Dependent upon Governmental mandates, periodically updated, to be provided for the 2021/22 tax year.
On Grievance Day, June 23, 2020, the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) will meet by teleconference between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (with the exception of lunch and dinner breaks).
Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order 202.22, dated April 20, 2020, and the Town Board Resolution, dated April 21, 2020, the BAR is authorized to hear grievance complaints remotely. Pursuant to this Executive Order, for this tax year, the Town has developed procedures for grievance applicants to personally appear before the BAR by teleconference. A live feed of the proceedings before the BAR will be transmitted by audio which can be accessed on the Town of Huntington website under Government/Upcoming Meetings – Board of Assessment Review - June 23, 2020 – 9:00 am.
IMPORTANT: Personal appearances before the BAR are not mandatory for your grievance complaint to be considered by the BAR. The BAR will deliberate on your application and will consider all information submitted in support of the grievance complaint regardless of whether you personally appear by teleconference. Personal appearance time will be limited. You should use this limited time to explain a concept or idea which may be difficult for the BAR members to understand by a review of the supporting paperwork.
The following are the procedures adopted for appearing by teleconference before the BAR for the 2020/21 tax year:
You must submit an original copy of the Grievance Complaint so as to be received by the Assessor’s Office no later 4:00 pm on Friday, June 19, 2020. The paperwork can be mailed to the Town of Huntington Assessor’s Office, Town Hall, 100 Main Street, Huntington, New York 11743, or personally delivered to the white mailbox outside the main entrance to the Town Hall Building at 100 Main Street, Huntington, New York. This deadline only applies to applicant’s desiring to appear before the BAR by a teleconference hearing. If you do not desire such a hearing, then the deadline for filing your grievance complaint remains as set forth in Step 5 above.
Although only one original copy of the grievance complaint is required, it is recommended that you supply an original and five (5) copies of the grievance complaint, and all supporting paperwork, so that all members of the BAR have a copy of the information before them as you attempt to explain your case during your teleconference.
You must also submit a fully completed Teleconference Appearance Request form along with your original grievance complaint. A copy of the form can be downloaded by clicking here. Alternatively, you can call the Assessor’s Office during normal business hours between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday, to have a copy of this form mailed or emailed to you. NO TELECONFERENCE APPOINTMENTS WILL BE MADE BY TELEPHONE.
Your appearance before the BAR to discuss your grievance complaint will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. We will attempt to schedule your teleconference hearing during your preferred time, but your requested time cannot be guaranteed.
On Monday, June 22nd, you will be notified of your scheduled time to appear before the BAR by teleconference. This notification will occur by the preferred method outlined on your Teleconference Appearance Request form. The notification will advise you of your assigned time, length of time allotted, teleconference call-in number and your assigned ticket number.
The length of your appearance time before the BAR will be limited, and will be dependent upon the number of persons requesting such a hearing.
The BAR will not make a decision on your grievance complaint on Grievance Day, but you will be notified in writing of the BAR decision at a later date.
For any questions about these unique hearing procedures, please call the Assessor’s Office during normal business hours between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
There are other times throughout the year when grievance complaints will be required to be filed with the Assessor’s office, but you will receive notification from the Assessor’s Office of your right to file during these other designated time-frames and of the deadline associated with each filing time-frame.
For a more extensive overview of the general process of challenging a real property assessment, you can download a copy of the publication Contesting Your Assessment in NY State here.
The Assessor’s Office has prepared a sample Grievance Complaint form with tips for properly preparing the form. The form containing the tips can be accessed by clicking here.