Challenging Your Assessment
Step One: Establish Your Market Value
Before pursuing a review of your assessment, you should first determine if you are assessed fairly. Review the assessor’s estimate of the market value of your property.
Develop an estimate of the market value of your property. You can learn how to estimate the value of your home or contact an appraiser or other real estate professional. We recommend you find comparable sales using the view property information link on the Assessor’s website. You’ll want to look for sales that have occurred between 1/1/2020 and 12/31/2022.
Sales that were offered on the open market and are considered arm’s length are the best to use. They can be found using the view property information link. If you decide to use sales from private websites you should ensure there is an MLS number associated with that sales price or it may not be indicative of the market but, a special circumstance like a foreclosure, estate sale or transfer between related parties. Those sales are not considered arm’s length and may be rejected.
If the assessor’s estimate of the market value of your property reflects roughly the amount for which you could sell your property, then your assessment if fair. Without establishing a market value the odds of a successful assessment challenge decrease dramatically.
There are a few options available to anyone who wishes to challenge their assessment. All of the options require you to submit information to support your determination of the property’s market value. So, it is important that you do the work of determining your market value prior to filing a challenge. The challenge you will pursue is determined by the time of year. New York State set the property tax cycle (PDF) the Assessor’s Office is required to follow.
If you are assessed fairly, but you feel that your taxes are too high
Assessors do not determine your property taxes. If you feel as though your assessment accurately reflects the market value of your property, but you still feel that your property taxes are too high, you may wish to address this matter with the taxing jurisdictions that impose taxes in your community – school board, county legislature, city council, town board, fire district and other special districts. The Assessor can explain how property taxes are calculated, including what property tax exemptions are offered in the Town of Cheektowaga.
Step Two: Informal Review
Informal Reviews are handled by the Assessor’s Office from February 1, 2023 through March 31, 2023. Any one who wishes to challenge their assessment must have the application in the Assessor’s Office by March 31, 2023. This is an opportunity to submit an assessment challenge prior to the formal grievance process in May. The Informal Reviews are not held in person. You must complete the application to be considered for review. The informal applications are accepted via US Mail, town hall drop box or in-person delivery. You may submit additional information with your application if you feel it will show that your property is overvalued.
Using the sales approach is the easiest and best way to seek relief through the Informal Review process. Turning in the sales you used to determine your market value in Step One above will help show how you arrived at your value. Sales can be found online using our property search system.
Step Three: Grievance Day
Grievance Day in Cheektowaga is held on the fourth Wednesday, after the fourth Tuesday, in May. Grievance Day is a day to hear challenges to the Tentative Assessment Roll, mandated by New York State. Grievance Day is held every year regardless of reassessment. There are two options for grievance day.
For the 2023 roll year, Grievance Day is 5/24/2023.
The first is to request a hearing. Hearings can be scheduled with the Assessor’s Office after turning in a completed Grievance Day application (rp-524). Hearings can be held in person, over the phone or remotely. At the hearing you will have a conversation with the Board of Assessment Review regarding your assessment. This year you will need to provide the information you’ve collected that supports your claim to a reduction in assessed value along with the completed application prior to May 24, 2023. Everyone will who wishes to have a hearing will be scheduled for one. All appointments must be scheduled. Turn in the completed rp-524 before Grievance day to get your preferred time on May 24, 2023. The Board of Assessment Review can ask questions and request additional documentation from you. The Assessor can also give testimony at the hearing. No decisions are made at the hearing.
The second option is a non-hearing. This option requires you submit a completed rp-524 application along with your supporting information anytime beginning May 1 through Grievance Day (May 24, 2023). A review of the your information along with the information used to establish your assessment is looked at after Grievance Day. The Board of Assessment Review is able to request additional documentation to make their determination.
With both a hearing and non-hearing a decision is made after Grievance Day and all decision notices are mailed prior to July 1. This is due to a deadline set by New York State to file the Final Roll at the beginning of July.
Applications are accepted from May 1, 2023 through May 24, 2023. The RP-524 is not accepted electronically. It must be filed via mail, in person or by using one of the drop boxes located at Town Hall.
The assessment challenge worksheet is designed to help you compile your information in an easy way for the BAR to review. After you have determined your market value in step one. You can supply the BAR with sales using the assessment challenge worksheet that support your estimation of market value. It is vitally important that you provide the BAR with sales of homes that are similar to your own home in style, size, square footage, etc. The assessment challenge worksheet will help you narrow down your search results to 5 homes plus yours and the details of all 6 in one place.
Step Four: Small Claims Assessment Review
The Small Claims Assessment Review is a procedure that provides property owners with an opportunity to challenge the assessment on their real property as determined by the Board of Assessment Review. You must have filed a complaint with the Board of Assessment Review to proceed with a Small Claims Assessment Review.
Filing a Petition
- Petitions can be obtained from the Erie County Clerks Office or online at NY Courts SCAR homepage.
- A SCAR petition may be filed by any property owner who:
- was aggrieved by an assessment;
- owns and occupies a one-, two-, or three-family, residence that is used exclusively for residential purposes or owns an unimproved lot that is not of sufficient size as determined by the assessing unit to contain a one-, two-, or three-family residential structure; and
- has filed a written complaint with the Board of Assessment Review (Board)
- The only condominiums that qualify as property subject to a SCAR proceeding are:
- owner-occupied condominiums used exclusively for residential purposes that have been designated in the “homestead” class in jurisdictions outside Nassau County and New York City.
- Petitions may be completed by the property owner or by a hired representative. If a representative files the petition, the property owner must complete the “Designation of Representative” section of the petition.
- There is a filing fee of $30.
- Applications must be filed by July 31, 2023.
- The original petition and two copies must be filed with the Erie County Clerk and should include supporting statements, records, and other relevant information to support your petition.
- Additional copies must be provided to the following
- County Treasurer
- Town Clerk
- Assessor (filed with Town Clerk)
- School District
- Additional copies must be provided to the following
THE COURT WILL ASSIGN YOUR PETITION TO A HEARING OFFICER WHO WILL ADVISE YOU OF THE HEARING DATE, TIME AND LOCATION.