Grieving Real Estate Taxes: 3 Options

Different municipalities, in various parts of the country, use a number of different methods, of determining real estate taxes, Some of these have very simple systems, and even those usually have a number of flaws. Others, like in New York City, there is less burden on real estate taxes, because most of the fees and taxes, are derived from income, etc. Here, in Nassau County, just east of New York City, there is a somewhat complicated system in place, where those who don’t try to grieve their assessed values (and thus their tax), are often punished by that very system. This article will discuss localities, where homeowners have the ability, to grieve these rates, etc. Basically, there are only 3 options available: 1) Do nothing; 2) Do it yourself; and, 3) Hire a qualified company to represent you.

1. Do nothing: When you receive your annual assessed value, which has been determined by assessors, hired by the municipality, you decide to do nothing. While one might do this because of either laziness, ignorance, a misled – belief in the system/ fairness, etc, the result is often getting punished, because many others will dispute their assessment, and often receive some sort of reduction. Remember, grieving these, has no substantive penalty, if denied!

2. Do it yourself: The procedure is not a complicated one, and it is certainly possible to do this oneself. However, that may also be said for preparing one’s income tax, etc, and most people benefit from using the services of professionals, who specialize in this procedure. The advantage of doing it yourself is, if you win, you will receive the entire savings, while if you hire someone, you’ll pay a fee. The disadvantages of going the solo route include: unfamiliarity with the nuances of the form; inability to use the most relevant Comparables, and/ or appearing by oneself, if it ends up going to a hearing.

3. Hire a qualified company: This is the route I have taken every year. Could I have done this myself, and saved paying them, if they win the reduction for me? Probably, but also understand, this company receives nothing unless they get me a savings, and then they receive a percentage of what they’ve saved. I look at this as found money, and I have to do nothing other than hire them, risk – free. I favor this route because it has been a successful course of action, for me!

Regardless of which way makes you feel comfortable, I urge you to seriously consider either proceed using the second or third route, and don’t leave your money on the table, by failing to grieve, while many others do. When you go to sell your home, taking no action, might hurt you, because your house will probably show significantly higher real estate taxes, than your neighbors.