Question

How do I appeal my real estate taxes in Connecticut?

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Michael J. Cacace - Land Use/Zoning - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Michael J. Cacace

Located in Stamford, CTCacace, Tusch & Santagata

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Answer

As you seek to challenge your Connecticut real estate tax assessment, understand that there is often a multistep process through which your appeal must proceed. To start, Connecticut has a revaluation system for property under which local municipalities revalue commercial and residential real estate values on October 1st every five years. Municipalities across the state are on different five-year cycles. Property assessors for each municipality determine the value of real property as of that date.

The property assessor will sign the “grand list” with their assessed value in or around January of the year following the assessment, and new tax assessment notices are sent to property owners shortly thereafter. The assessment amount established by the assessor on the revaluation date is used in determining the tax amount for the next five years, by applying a mill rate each year.

The Local Board Of Assessment Appeals

The first step in challenging an assessment is to file an appeal with the local Board of Assessment Appeals. This appeal must be filed by February 20th of the year following the October 1st revaluation. The Board of Assessment Appeals is a quasi-administrative body that consists of community laypersons who are either elected or appointed to their position, based on the municipality.

An appeal should be prepared as far in advance of the February 20th deadline as possible. You will be barred from challenging an October 1st revaluation if you miss the February 20th statutory deadline.

A successful appeal requires information and documentation that supports your position that the newly assessed value is too high. An expert appraisal is often the best evidence to establish your position. Ideally, your expert’s assessment will be close to the value you believe your property to be. Other evidence that can support your appeal may include sale listings, purchase offers, comparable property sales, income and expense documents and leases related to the property.

After reviewing the evidence, the Board of Assessment Appeals may order an assessment reduction, make no change or, while it is a rare occurrence, order an increase in value. After the board issues its decision, a determination will need to be made whether to appeal the decision to the Connecticut Superior Court.

The Connecticut Superior Court

Challenges to a Local Board of Assessment Appeals’ determination must be filed with the Connecticut Superior Court. This appeal must be filed within two months from the date the Board of Assessment’s decision was mailed to the property owner.

During an appeal, the property owner must present compelling evidence to the court. The best chance for success is by utilizing expert appraisals, witness testimony and documentary evidence that demonstrate your proposed value is correct and the municipality’s value excessive.

Additional Information To Note

Other details to consider if you wish to appeal a real estate tax assessment include the fact that only one appeal can be taken during each revaluation. However, if you missed the first year, you may file in a subsequent year.

Also, if new construction or demolition occurs during the revaluation cycle, the tax assessor should reassess the property on an interim basis.

In addition, the dates for the assessor to act or appeals to be brought are sometimes modified by the state legislature, usually at the request of a particular municipality.

Furthermore, while it would benefit some, residential appeals do not often justify the expense of taking an appeal in the same way that appeals for commercial property may. A thorough evaluation of the pros and cons of taking an appeal is essential in determining whether such action would be financially prudent for the property owner.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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