Six Steps Property Owners Should Take in the Event of a Revaluation

Murtha Cullina
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Greenwich, Hartford, New Haven and Trumbull are on a list of nearly 40 Connecticut municipalities that are conducting a general revaluation on the October 1, 2021 Grand List.  In a revaluation, the assessor determines the value of every parcel of real property in the municipality as of the October 1st revaluation date. Connecticut law requires municipalities to conduct a general revaluation at least once every five years.  Therefore, in the ordinary course, the assessment established on the revaluation date will be used to determine the taxes to be levied for the next five years. Taking an appeal immediately after a revaluation maximizes a property owner’s potential tax savings.

The key issue in a property tax appeal is the property’s true value as of the October 1 revaluation date.  Even if an assessment has decreased since the last revaluation, an excessive assessment will result in the property owner bearing a disproportionate share of the tax burden.

Local assessors gather property-related data and information on an ongoing basis but ramp up efforts in the months leading up to a revaluation.  If your municipality is conducting a general revaluation for the October 1, 2021 Grand List, you will receive a notice of tax assessment change. Once the notices are issued, there may be a chance to meet informally with the assessor or his/her representative(s) to discuss the new assessed value; however, if a property owner wishes to challenge the assessment formally, a written appeal must be filed with the local Board of Assessment Appeals by the February 20, 2022 statutory deadline (unless the town extends the deadline 30 days, making it March 20, 2022).   

What steps should a property owner take when there has been a revaluation?

  1. Watch for notice from the municipality related to the revaluation.  This notice usually contains information on the new assessed value, the opportunity to meet informally with the assessor or his/her representative(s) and the deadline (February 20) to appeal to the local Board of Assessment Appeals.
  2. Review the notice carefully.  Does it accurately identify your property?  Do you own other parcels for which you did not receive notices?  If the assessor’s new value is stated in the notice, do you believe that it reflects the property’s true fair market value as of October 1, 2021, based on market conditions and property-specific facts?
  3. If you believe the new value is too high, assemble information and documentation which supports your position.  Recent appraisals, listings for sale and offers to purchase, sales of comparable properties, income and expense statements, leases and the like are all helpful in determining a property’s value.  Of course, data close in time to the October 1, 2021 revaluation date will be most relevant.
  4. Confer with experienced legal counsel.  In consultation with counsel, all matters related to the property’s value as of the revaluation date and appropriate legal and valuation grounds for an appeal will be discussed, and a go-forward strategy will be formulated.
  5. Decide whether to attend an informal meeting or to appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals.  Often, factual errors or mistakes may be corrected during an informal meeting with the assessor or his/her representative(s).  The formal appeal process, however, begins with filing a written appeal with the Board of Assessment Appeals.  Unless extended, the deadline to do so is February 20, 2022, although an appeal should be prepared well in advance of the deadline.  Except in unusual circumstances, you will lose the ability to challenge the October 1, 2021 assessment if a timely appeal to the Board is not filed.
  6. Once the Board issues its decision, decide whether to appeal to the Superior Court.  If a property owner remains dissatisfied with the Board’s decision, the only recourse is to appeal to the Superior Court.  A court appeal must be filed within two months of the Board’s decision, or the right to appeal is lost.

As with any contested administrative or court proceeding, the decision as to whether to pursue a tax appeal should not be made lightly.  A thoughtful, critical analysis of whether an appeal is essential will usually result in a financial benefit to the property owner, whether an appeal is ultimately pursued or not.  Once an appeal is underway, the property owner and counsel must work as a team to prepare a compelling presentation to the Board and if necessary, to the Court, utilizing fact and expert witnesses, and documentary evidence to establish that the municipality’s value is excessive, and that the taxpayer’s proposed value is correct.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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