Tax Appeals

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS DURING A REVALUATION FOR THE CITY OF STAMFORD

What Is A Revaluation?

A Revaluation is the process of conducting a Market Analysis necessary to equalize the values of all properties within a municipality for the purpose of a fair distribution of the tax burden.

What Happens During A Revaluation?

A project of this scope is separated into two categories, residential real estate and commercial/industrial real estate.

Residential Real Estate

A verification of physical attributes of each property is first conducted. Approximately, 22,000 data-mailers have been mailed to residential property owners in effort to verify pertinent information regarding the residence. If any of the information appears incorrect, the owner should return the letter, along with its corrections, to the Assessors office. The returned letters are then reviewed and processed by the Revaluation staff. Phone calls and physical inspections of the property may be required to verify the changes. Eight percent of the 22,000 data-mailers sent required a data correction.

Commercial and Industrial Real Estate

A complete analysis of income and expense statements is performed to determine market rents, expense ratios and capitalization rates. This is performed each year and is part of the process to establish estimated market values based on the properties income. Since 2004, 1,545 income and expense statements have been analyzed. These are used to determine income values for all similar property types.

While the data verification phase is going on, the professional staff of the Property Revaluation Department is studying the sales to determine where market fluctuations are occurring. 4,003 sales have been reviewed. This study of recent property sales allows comparisons to be made and to establish parameters to estimate the value of property for all property types that has not been sold.

How Will The Homeowner Be Notified Of The New Assessment?

At the completion of the project each property owner, will receive an individual notice of the new assessment. Property owners can then review assessed values for properties within their neighborhood, so that the property owner can compare values to similar properties. All property owners are given the opportunity to discuss their values with the

Assessors office at an appointed time, which will be publicly announced (Informal Hearings) towards the end of the Revaluation. At a hearing the property owner can voice concerns, discuss inaccuracies or discrepancies with a hearing officer who will review the property record card and explain the value. Should an inspection or re-valuation need to be done the hearing officer will make that determination and any changes that result will be sent to the property owner.

How Will I Know If My Assessment Is Equitable?

There are two very good methods of determining this. First, compare your properties to similar properties that sold in the previous year. Your value should be in line with these sale prices. Second, if no recent sales are available, compare your assessment to other similar properties in your area using the public access terminals available in the Assessors office; or visit the City of Stamford website at this web address http://www.cityofstamford.org/apps/tax/AssessmentMain.htm to review properties on the Assessors on-line database. Remember, very few properties are exactly alike. Your value should be comparable, but it seldom will be exactly the same as what seems to be a similar property.

Why Did My Land Value Change Differently Than My Building Value?

Since the last Revaluation completed on October 1, 1999, Real Estate Values have changed significantly. Over the same period, building construction costs have increased at a much slower rate. Since building costs have not increased as much as total values, the bulk of the total increase, if any, is attributable to land. This makes perfect economic sense, as it is land that is limited supply.

Who is Performing The Revaluation?

The administration has formed a new department whose primary focus is to work in conjunction with the Assessor and his professional staff, and continually analyze market trends, determine construction costs, review and qualify sales, research deeded rights, and maintain accurate assessment information that is pertinent to the valuation of 40,000 parcels.

What Is An Informal Hearing?

Towards the end of the Revaluation, property owners will receive a notice of their proposed valuation based on the analysis performed. These values are not final, only after the hearings will values be final. When a homeowner has a question or concern about the proposed valuation, they are asked to call the Assessors office and a date and time to meet will be set to discuss the valuation process and answer any questions the homeowner may have. An informal hearing is not a forum to discuss taxes, it is strictly meant to answer questions on the property valuations. Homeowners are asked to come prepared with questions and to establish comparisons of their property to others in their neighborhood. A Hearing Officer will determine if a review of the property is necessary. All changes to value that occur due to a hearing will be reflected in the change notice that is sent after hearings are complete.

If I Disagree With My Assessment After The Informal Hearing, What Are My Options?

If any property-owner believes the assessment on their property is in excess of its Fair Market Value they should first notify the Assessors Office. They may then appeal before the Municipality's Board of Assessment Appeals. The Board of Assessment Appeals will review the case and make a determination as to the disposition of the appeal. Should the property-owner still feel the assessment is incorrect, they may appeal to the Superior Court for the judicial district in which the municipality is located. All appeals to the Board of Assessment Appeals must be made by February 20th if the grand list is filed by the Assessors office by January 31St. If the town is granted an extension to file the grand list the filing deadline to the Board of Assessment Appeals is March 20th. Always contact your local assessors office with any questions pertaining to the filing dates for appeals.

What Is Market Value And Who Determines My Property Value?

Market Value is determined by people; by the activity in the Real Estate Market and the general economy. The value of your property is based on an analysis of the entire market for the full calendar year before the completion of the revaluation Project. The market can generally be defined as, you, the person who sold the property to you, and the person willing to buy it from you. It is the responsibility of the Property Revaluation Department to research and analyze the values in any particular area or neighborhood. In effect, they do what you would do to determine the selling price when putting your property up for sale. Only the Property Revaluation Department has specific guidelines to follow. Factors that are examined for each property are: location, size, quality of construction, age of improvements, topography, utilities, zoning restrictions, if any, etc.

What About Elderly And Veterans Exemptions?

The law requires that the Assessor appraise taxable property and not the people who own it. Under state law, all property is appraised at current fair market value. There are, however, two programs (the Elderly Tax Freeze Program which is being phased out, & the Elderly and Totally Disabled Homeowners Program) that provide tax relief for qualifying persons over the age of 65. Other statutes provide exemptions for people who are veterans, disabled, or blind. If you now have an exemption it will be automatically deducted at tax billing time.

Do I Have To Let The Assessors Office Inspect My Property?

No, you don't have to let them in; this is a request not a court order. However, if you choose not to let the Assessors office in they will be forced to estimate the interior of the property. There are three scenarios that can occur. The first is that the Assessors office will estimate correctly and your assessment will be accurate. The second is the Assessors office will estimate incorrectly and you will receive an inaccurate assessment. The third case scenario is that the taxpayer made improvements to the house and the new assessment does not reflect the improvements. If you want an accurate assessment on your property the best approach is to let the assessors office inspect the property.

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