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Property Owner's Right to Challenge their Preliminary Assessment

If you own property in the Town of Irondequoit (“Irondequoit”) in Rochester, New York, you should have received a 2023 Assessment Disclosure Notice (“Disclosure Notice”) in the mail. Upon reviewing the Disclosure Notice, you might have been surprised to learn that the Level of Assessment (“LOA”) is projected to increase significantly. This surprise is being experienced in municipalities across New York State.

New York State Law requires all properties to be assessed at a uniform percentage of market value. In other words, all properties must be assessed at market value or at the same percentage of market value.

Under New York Real Property Tax Law, a Disclosure Notice is required when “[s]tate equalization rate for the immediately preceding assessment roll is less than eighty-five.” A state’s equalization rate is the measure of a municipality’s LOA. The equalization rate is the total assessed value of the municipality divided by the total market value. Assessed value is the dollar amount assigned to a property as determined by the local assessor while market value is what your property would sell for under normal market conditions.

The LOA carries significant weight and importance when determining real property taxes. The LOA is the percentage of market or full value at which properties are assessed within a community. For instance, an LOA of Fifty percent (50%) means that assessments are at half of market value; while an LOA of One Hundred percent (100%) means a community is assessing at One Hundred percent (100%) of market value.

In New York State, an assessor is responsible for determining the LOA for the assessing unit and ensuring that all properties are assessed at the same uniform percentage of value. The Office of Real Property Services (“ORPS”) reviews the assessor’s LOA to determine whether it can be used as the equalization rate.

According to the New York State Tax Department, assessors generally use a systematic analysis in which they review and analyze property data to determine the LOA. For instance, assessors follow a four-step process to determine the LOA: (1) obtain current accurate property inventory and market data; (2) group the data; (3) analyze the data and take actions to achieve the desired level; and (4) validate the results. However, this systematic approach is not as simple as it may seem. Assessors must consider many factors when gathering and analyzing property data. First and foremost, the data must be accurate. Secondly, assessors must consider land characteristic, characteristic improvements, and location.

A Disclosure Notice provides an estimate of the current preliminary taxable assessment of the parcel. This hypothetical estimate illustrates the market value of the property and what the new assessment value could be. While the preliminary assessment is only an estimate, property owners are encouraged to review the document in its entirety.

If the preliminary assessment does not reflect the market value, property owners should seek an informal review to challenge their individual property assessment prior to the release of the tentative assessment roll on May 1, 2023. If a property owner believes the tentative assessment roll does not accurately reflect the value of their property, they have the right to challenge that assessment by scheduling an informal review to discuss their concerns. In the Town of Irondequoit, the deadline to schedule an informal review is April 7, 2023.

If a property owner is not satisfied with the result of their informal review, they have a right to challenge the assessment through a Grievance Process. To initiate the Grievance Process, the property owner must file a formal written complaint on Form RP-524, Complaint on Real Property Assessment, with the Board of Assessment Review (“BAR”) for the municipality by the Grievance Day deadline. In the Town of Irondequoit, the deadline to file a grievance complaint is May 23, 2023. In most municipalities the deadline to file a grievance is the fourth Tuesday in May.

As a property owner, it is their responsibility to meet the Grievance Day deadline when filing a complaint with the BAR. If they mail the Form RP-524, it must be received by the BAR no later than Grievance Day. If property owner fails to meet the deadline, the assessment of the property becomes final. Please note that the assessor and the BAR can only review the assessed value; they do not set and cannot adjust taxes.

In recent years, property owners have discovered that they have been paying significantly more in property taxes due, in large part, to unfair and inaccurate assessments. Therefore, it is important to confirm those assessments ahead of time.

Our firm has extensive experience counseling employers/businesses and others on statutory requirements, as well as preparing and implementing applicable policies. If you have any questions related to this Legal Briefing, please contact any member of our firm at 585-730- 4773.

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This Legal Briefing is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. The substance of this Legal Briefing is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2023 Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC


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