Are My Real Estate Taxes Going to Increase When I Buy a House in New York?

Financial planning is essential when you are buying a house– the bank checks and you want to know what your monthly nut is going to be. But, you are buying an old house which appears to have several exemptions and possibly an absurdly low tax assessment. Will your taxes go up after you close on the house?

In New York, an assessor may not selectively reassess your new property unless she is prepared to explain why a reassessment is necessary while other properties’ assessment go unchanged. Why? Because reassessing particular properties or particular neighborhoods may result in discriminatory enforcement of tax laws.

Although the highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals, has not specifically articulated a ruling on selective reassessment, lower courts have even if the decisions have been split. The divided case law results from a balancing of considering the statutory and constitutional requirements of equality in assessing properties against evaluating individual facts on a case-by-case basis. In Feigert v. Assessor of the Town of Bedford, 204 A.D.2d 543, 614 N.Y.S.2d 200 (2nd Dep’t 1994), for example, the court upheld a reassessment of a property based on proof submitted by the petitioner that a prior assessment was based upon a resale of the property. In Towne House Village Condominium v. Assessor of the Town of Islip, 200 A.D.2d 749, 607 N.Y.S.2d 87 (2nd Dep’t 1994), on the other hand, the court struck down a reassessment that was based solely on a property’s conversion from an apartment complex to a condominium property.

The Bottom Line– Each case is very dependent upon the facts: an assessor must reassess all property in a revaluation or update year, or prepare to justify any change in any one assessment. So, if the new assessment is in line with those houses around your new house, it is likely that your final tax bill will increase.

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