Answers from Victoria Sirota, Scarsdale Reviewer
Understanding your property taxes: Answers from Scarsdale appraiser Victoria Sirota
Monday, April 12, 2021 9:22 AM
Last updated: Monday, April 12, 2021 9:37 AM
Posted: Monday, April 12, 2021 9:22 AM
Do you have questions about your property taxes? How will the increase in selling prices affect your taxes? What does the equalization rate mean and will Scarsdale have another reassessment? We asked Scarsdale Village Assessor Victoria Sirota for answers, and here’s what we learned.
For the first time in many years, Scarsdale has a 100% equalization rate. Can you explain what this means?
In its simplest form, an equalization rate is a measure of the overall level of assessment relative to the full market value at which a municipality assesses all of its real estate. Equalization rates are calculated annually by Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPTS) assessment staff and are used for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to county tax apportionment and the distribution of state aid. The 100% equalization rate determined by the ORPTS for the 2021 assessment year is Scarsdale’s most recent assessment level. Since Scarsdale is not considered an annual reassessment municipality, the 100% equalization rate is only a reflection of market value assessments based on state market measures. This does not mean that the municipality assesses the properties at 100% of their market value. Being a non-reassessment municipality means that assessments are not reviewed and adjusted annually to reflect the city-wide market. As such, the appraiser will not have the authority to re-evaluate all unfair appraisals. The appraiser will use this year’s equalization rate, as in previous years, to determine the assessed value of new improvements as well as to determine the market value of a property when reviewing the assessment at the request of the owner.
The graph below shows the equalization rate since 2016. Keep in mind that a rising equalization rate denotes a declining market and vice versa.
How will the booming home sales market affect Scarsdale’s taxes?
Property tax is an ad valorem tax, that is, it is based on the value of real estate. In order to levy and collect property taxes, the value of each individual property in the city must be determined. This is the evaluator’s job. Appraisers have no control over taxes, as taxes are not a function of the work of the appraiser. Taxes are determined by county, school, village and town councils. It’s important to know that Scarsdale doesn’t get increased income when ratings go up, because ratings don’t affect revenue. Also, if the overall taxable value increases and the tax levy remains unchanged, the tax rate will decrease. The ‘hot’ market for home sales in Scarsdale has highlighted the fact that appraisals have become obsolete since the last citywide reassessment as the gap between assessed and market values has widened over the course of the last year. This trend will likely be considered by the board when planning the next reassessment project.
When can a house be reappraised? After a sale? After renovations?
In a non-revaluation municipality like Scarsdale, the appraiser is bound by strict rules, regulations and procedures established by the State of New York under which he is obligated to determine the market value of all real estate based on annual building permits and requests for assessment review. In a reassessment municipality, the rules, regulations, and procedures vary slightly in that the assessor has the added power to reassess any unfair assessments. Under strict state guidelines, appraisers are not allowed to adjust appraisals (up or down) based on sale price. However, it is the job of the appraiser to review and reduce the appraisals, if necessary, at the request of the owner.
Do you expect Scarsdale to re-rating more regularly or will the mourning process keep valuations in line with the market?
Although assessment review applications allow the assessor to review the assessment of a single property, this process does not create a fair and equitable assessment across the municipality since the assessor does not have the ability to correct any unfair assessments. For example, if appraisals are lower than market value, landlords will generally not dispute the appraisal. To ensure that all properties are appraised fairly, appraisers must conduct periodic reappraisals. A reassessment is the comprehensive review and update of all property values in a community. By adjusting the “assessed value” of each property to reflect full market value, assessors neither increase nor decrease the property tax for a community, but rather “level the playing field” so that all properties are assessed fairly. and only pay their fair share of taxes. It is important to note that if the overall taxable value increases and the tax levy remains unchanged, the municipal tax rate will decrease.
Do you expect more/fewer grievances this year?
Like every year, if residents feel that their assessment is unfair, they are encouraged to speak to their assessor and/or formally challenge their assessment by filing a request for assessment review. Reviewing an appraisal is free and there is no need to hire a lawyer. The body that hears assessment grievances and determines their outcome is the Assessment Review Board, whose members are appointed by city council. Per New York State law, appraisal disputes may be filed with the appraiser’s office between June 1 and the third Tuesday in June, or June 15 for the statutory claim deadline of This year. As a reminder, the job of the evaluator is to ensure that the evaluations are fair and equitable and to help the public understand their evaluation and adjust it if necessary. It is important to remember that taxes cannot be disputed with the assessor, only assessments. If the property can be sold for the appraiser’s estimate of full market value, the appraisal is more likely to be fair.
The table below indicates that the number of grievances filed in each of the past five years has decreased.