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You’re Entitled To A Fair Assessment

An absolute rule for real property assessment is that it must be fair and equitable. What does that mean? Simply, it means you should be assessed only at the fair market value of your property. Equitable means that you should not be assessed more than similar properties in your municipality.

A frequent target of an increase in assessment is a recent sale. That sale in a rising market is going to reflect a higher fair market value than properties that have not been sold and were assessed in previous years. While the assessment based on your sale could be fair, it is not necessarily equal. If your property was sold for a price higher than the previous fair market value used by the Assessor, that means the entire market has improved and the value of other properties similarly situated has increased. Therefore, in order to be fair and equitable, all of the properties that are similar to yours should be reassessed on the same basis as your assessment is increased because of your purchase at the now fair market value.

If the assessing jurisdiction has not addressed all properties similar to yours, and they raise your assessment, they could be engaged in “selective enforcement” which is a denial of your equal protection rights under the Federal and State constitutions and under the Real Property Tax laws. The Court cases have made it clear that there must be a “plan” by which the Assessor undertakes to make changes in property assessments. A plan can be based on location, classification of property, type of property, nature of ownership, size or other common features. In the absence of a “plan,” an increase in the assessment on your property can be the result of illegal “selective enforcement”. Remember, you are entitled to have your assessment “fair” and “equitable”.

 

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Gerald Jacobowitz is senior counsel concentrating in business, tax certiorari.  He can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9656 and by email.
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