• Fri. Dec 9th, 2022

Stamford property reassessments are coming

ByWillie M. Evans

Nov 18, 2022

For tax purposes, Connecticut municipalities reassess real estate once every five years. Stamford has just completed its reassessment and the new assessments are expected to be shared with owners at the end of this month. So now is the time to consider the value of your property and whether a tax appeal may be necessary.

During reappraisal, Stamford values ​​properties using a method called “mass appraisal”. This approach is not as accurate as a typical assessment, but it is cost effective for the city.

Bethel, Danbury, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton are also subject to property revaluations.

If your property’s assessment seems high, you need to act now because Connecticut offers a very short window of time to challenge your assessment. Also, new this year, the state now requires landlords to obtain and share assessment reports with the city within four months of filing an appeal. This will be a difficult deadline, as evaluators are already facing significant backlogs. If you intend to challenge your assessment, it is therefore important to begin the process as soon as possible.

After receiving notice of the proposed valuation, owners will have the opportunity to meet informally with the appraiser or revaluation company to review the valuation and present documents or information to show that the valuation is inflated . These informal meetings are very important and can often result in significant write-downs with limited spending by owners on appraisers and legal fees.

If a ratepayer is not satisfied with the results of the informal meeting, beginning in January, the ratepayer can file a formal appeal with the municipality’s Assessment Appeal Board (BAA).

The deadline to file an appeal is usually February 20, but can be extended to March 20 at the request of the municipality. For higher value residential properties and most commercial properties, the municipality can simply decline a BAA hearing and summarily dismiss the appeal. When a hearing is granted, it is rare for a BAA to make a material change to the assessment, no matter how strong a taxpayer’s case.

If an owner remains dissatisfied with the result of the BAA, he can appeal to the Superior Court. Such appeals must be filed within two months of the BAA’s decision. Most of these cases resolve without trial at mediation or settlement conferences in the tax session of the Superior Court in New Britain.

In addition to some of the obviously important pieces of information, we have identified a number of other questions that need to be answered when assessing a potential challenge to an evaluation.

Homeowners often like to look at the assessment of a neighboring property and argue that their assessment should reflect that of their neighbour. While this anecdotal information may supplement an appraiser’s testimony, ultimately the ultimate question will be “did the municipality properly appraise your property?” So looking at the appraisals of neighboring or similar properties is often not an effective tactic. On the other hand, certain information can be very useful for analyzing the merits of an appeal:

• Has the property been recently sold or offered for sale? If the property is listed for sale well above the value you are seeking from the municipality, this is a problem.

• Has the property been recently financed or refinanced? If so, an assessment will exist regarding refinancing. If that valuation is much higher than your opinion of your property’s current value, there should be a good explanation as to why.

• Is the municipality’s information sheet (square foot, area, etc.) accurate?

• Have you done any recent renovations or construction on the property such that there will be building permits with estimated building costs filed with the municipality?

• If the property is income-generating: Have you submitted income and expense statements to the municipality on time? Does the property have cell tower income? Revenue from parking fees? Tenant refunds? Early Lease Termination Payments? Approval fees? A recent rental activity? Is the space currently rented? Recent rental activity or listing can be used as evidence of what any similar space in the property should rent. Are your rents and charges in line with the market? If not why ?

If you think a tax appeal may be warranted, the next step is to identify an appropriate real estate appraiser and attorney to move forward properly. Tight deadlines and the scarcity of reassessments make it extremely important to analyze whether an appeal should be filed quickly, in order to be ready for the informal year-end hearings.

Attorney Adam J. Blank leads the tax appeals firm of Wofsey Rosen Kweskin Kuriansky, LLP, based in Stamford. He can be reached at [email protected] or 203-327-2300. www.WRKK.com