Archive for Property Tax Grievance

Are my property taxes fair? What is the relation between my assessment and fair market value?

The assessment represents a percentage of the market value of all real estate, in a given municipality.

In Westchester County the majority of municipalities are assessed at a percentage of their true market value which typically results in confusion for the homeowner trying to determine if their assessment is fair or needs to be challenged.

In order to convert an assessment into a fair market value you must apply the Residential Assessment Ration to the assessment.  Essentialy you divide the assessment by the RAR and the result is the equalized or fair market value

Confusion often arises because there are several different ratios that may appear on the tax bill.

The rates you may see are the equalization rate, or the level of assessment.  However, neither of these rates are appropriate for calculating market value for the purposes of tax grievance for residential properties.  You must find the RAR which can be obtained through the assessor’s office or the Office of Real Property Services (ORPS).

The assessment represents a percentage of the market value of a given property.  Depending on the county and the town it is located in.  Properties can be assessed at any percentage of their market value.  Typically from 1% to 100% of market value.

In Westchester county the majority of properties are assessed at a percentage of their market value which often results in a good deal of confusion for the homeowner.  In order to see the percentage of value that a particular municipality is assessed at go to

In my experience many homeowners have no idea what their assessment is or how it is relevant to their taxes.  Much of this confusion results from homes being assessed at a percentage of their market value. You see if homes were assessed at full market value it would be relatively easy to understand your assessment and whether it was fair or not.  For example, if all homes in your neighborhood were selling for $500,000 and yours was assessed at $650,000 it would be pretty clear that your house was over-assessed.

However, lets say you live in Philipstown where homes are assessed at 49% of their value.  Let’s assume you live in a neighborhood where homes are selling for $400,000 and you want to see if your assessment and taxes are fair. You look at your tax bill and you see that your assessment is $318,000.  Now if the homeowner knows that the property is assessed at 49% of its market value they would convert the assessment into a market value by dividing it by 49%.  Let’s do the math and see whether the house is fairly assessed.  $318,000(assessment)/49%=$648,979.

Wow, the house that the uninformed homeowner thought was under-assessed is really over-assessed by approximately $248,000.  I know this is scary and probably hard to swallow but it happens every day, so don’t let it happen to you.

In this particular case the homeowner is over-assessed by approximately 39%.  On a $10,000 tax bill that equates to $3,900 in additional, unnecessary taxes that the homeowner is paying each and every year and it happens every day.  Is it happening to you?

Okay, so now you know better.  You know that in order to see what market value your town is taxing you on you have to convert your assessment into a market value.  So how do you know what percentage of value your town is taxing you on?

Well, here is where it really gets interesting.  Before we go any further do you know what percentage of value you are being taxed at?  Did I just hear you say NO?

Alright. No problem, you can handle this.  Where can you find this information?  Think hard, how about your tax bill?  Go ahead and check your bill and it will likely indicate a market value for your property and the percentage that was used to calculate it.

That was helpful right?  Wrong!!  Whatever you do don’t count on this information to make your conclusion.  You see the rate that is used on your tax bill is often the equalization rate which is used to calculate the value of commercial property.  This rate is typically higher than the rate you would use for residential properties.  The result of using this higher rate is the illusion that your house is being assessed at a lower market value.

I can’t tell you how many homeowners have told me that their house is fairly assessed based on the information listed on their tax bill.  Let’s put some real numbers in play so this makes some sense.

Here is the situation, you live in Yonkers and your home is located in a neighborhood of similar homes that sell for approximately $300,000.

You take a look at your tax bill and you see your assessment is $10,000 and the market value is $298,500 and you also see that your property is assessed at 3.35% of its market value.  Based on this information it looks like your assessment is fair right?  Wrong again!!

The 3.35% represents the equalization rate which is used for commercial properties.  Your property is a residential property and you should be calculating your market value based on the RAR, which is conveniently omitted from your bill, in many cases.

But don’t worry, I am going to tell you what it is.  The RAR for Yonkers is 2.70% for 2013.  So now that we have the correct rate let’s check your $10,000 assessment and determine if you are fairly assessed.  Remember similar homes in your neighborhood are selling for $300,000.

Here is the math we will use to check your assessment $10,000(assessment)/2.70%(RAR)= $370,000 (Taxable Fair Market Value)

Wow, that’s some difference, you just went from being fairly assessed to being over-assessed by $70,000, or a whopping 19%.  If your tax bill was $6,500 per year you would be over paying by $1,235 each year without knowing it.

Can you really afford to not review your assessment?


Attention! Property Taxes Demystified

Calculation of property taxes though often misunderstood are really quite simple.  There are only two components to calculation your taxes, these are the assessment and the tax rates.  Once you have a better understanding of your property taxes, what they represent, and how they are calculated I think you will be empowered to get them as low as possible.

The Assessment:

Your assessment represents a percentage of the overall value of your home this percentage can vary from .01 percent to 100% depending on your municipality.  This percentage is known as the Residential Assessment Ratio, or RAR.  If you want to see a list of RAR’s in New York State you can go to

You can locate your assessment on your tax bill or by consulting with your local assessor, or the tax rolls located in the Tax Assessor’s office.  The tax roll is also typically available on line through your local town’s website.

The Tax Rates:

The tax rates represents the rate per thousand dollars of assessed value of your property. This rate is applied to your assessment to determine your property taxes.  The tax rates are a function of the budget.

Calculation of Property Taxes:

In order to calculate your taxes you simply multiply your assessment by your tax rates.  Just remember that the tax rate is represented as per thousand dollars of assessment.  So the easiest way to do the calculation is to divide the assessment by 1,000 and then simply multiply that figure against the tax rates.  You can see an example of this if you review any of your tax bills.  The tax bill will list your assessment, the tax rate, and the resulting property tax.  This is broken down line by line for each and every taxing district including Town, County, School & Special districts, so take a look for yourself.

In order to calculate your savings simply subtract your new assessment, after I have successfully reduced it for you, : ) from your old assessment and multiply that number by your tax rates.

When people see how much they save and how easy I make the process, they often feel bad that they did not take action earlier, but don’t, just take action and focus on your future savings.  If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact me.