Why File a Grievance?

The short answer is because when you win, you save money by paying less real estate tax. Also, your house can be more easily sold, and for a better price, as buyers can afford higher mortgage payments.

The long answer is a little more subtle. The hard reality of the system is this: if you don’t file and win a tax grievance in a given year, you will subsidize those who do. Municipal budgets are unaffected by fluctuations in assessment, meaning the municipality will simply increase tax rates to compensate for reduced assessments. (Note that in general, tax revenue = assessment multiplied by tax rate). So, when your assessment remains the same but others’ go down, you wind up paying a higher rate on the same assessment.

We are not the only ones to make this observation. Even ORPS (Office of Real Property Services, a New York State government agency) has called the system a “zero sum” game. This is a fancy way of saying that when someone else wins and you don’t, you don’t stay even, you lose.