What is an assessment?
Your property’s assessment is one of the factors used to determine the amount of your property taxes. All real property, commonly known as real estate, is assessed. Real property is defined as land and any permanent structures attached to it.
A property’s assessment is based on its market value. Market value is how much a property would sell for under normal conditions.
Why are property assessments important?
Property assessments are necessary to equitably distribute the tax burden among all property owners based upon the market value of their property. Properties are assessed so that some of the costs associated with providing services such as public education, fire/police protections, senior services, youth & recreation, roads & utilities can be allocated to property owners in proportion to the market value of their individual properties. We encourage an understanding of property taxes and assessments.
Assessments determine how much of the tax levy you are responsible for paying. The tax levy is the municipal budget minus any expected income. You’re only paying your share of the total levy based on the current market value of your property. Regular assessments do not generate additional tax revenue. They redistribute the tax burden to ensure you are paying only what fair, no more and no less. For more information check out how the property tax works (PDF).
If you are concerned with the amount of property taxes being collected, you may wish to be involved with the local budgeting processes. There are public meetings you can attend and voice your opinion, and you also have the opportunity to vote on your school budget.
For school district taxes, in addition to voting on the budget, you can attend budget meetings. Generally, the budget meetings are held in the spring through early April.
For municipal and county taxes, budget meetings are held in the fall through mid-November. Special districts (fire districts, sewer districts, etc.) also hold public meetings, but the dates vary. Contact the district for more information.
How property is assessed
A property’s value can be estimated in three different ways:
The assessor compares property to similar properties that have recently sold. The market approach is typically used to value residential, vacant, and farm properties.
With the cost approach, the assessor:
- calculates the cost to replace a structure with a similar one using today’s labor and material prices
- subtract depreciation
- add the market value of the land
The cost approach is used to value industrial, special purpose and utility properties.
With the income approach, the assessor analyzes how much income a property (such as an apartment building) will produce if rented.
The assessor takes into account:
- operating expenses
- maintenance costs
- financing terms
- amount expected to be earned
Assessors also use computer assisted mass appraisal techniques to analyze property sales and estimate values for multiple properties simultaneously.
From market value to assessment
Once the assessor estimates the market value of a property, its assessment is calculated.
The market value is determined when assessments are changing due revaluation or update of all real property on the assessment roll, there is a revaluation or update of all real property of the same class, there have been a physical change to the property (improvement, fire, demolition, etc.), or the property classification has changed.
In a city or town assessing at 100% of market value, the market value becomes the assessment.
Uniform Percent & Market Value
Real Property Tax Law 305 states, all properties are required to be assessed at a uniform percentage of market value each year. In other words, all taxable properties must be assessed at market value or at the same percentage of market value. When assessing property at 100 percent of market value, your assessment should equal roughly the price for which you could sell your property. When assessing at a percentage of market value, the estimated market value of each property is listed on the tentative and final assessment rolls. New York State’s measure of a municipality’s level of assessment is called an equalization rate.