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Real Property Tax Service Agency - Frequently Asked Questions

Assessments and Exemptions  

Q.  What is an Assessment?

An assessment is an estimate of the value of a piece of real property established for the purpose of taxation.  The assessment can be at market value, or at some fraction of market value.  All properties in the assessing unit must be valued at the same fraction (percentage) of market value.

Q.  Is all Real Estate assessed?

Yes.  The assessor must assess all real property (including hospitals, schools, government owned buildings, etc.) within his or her assessing unit.  The only exceptions are roads and public rights of way.

Q.  What is “Real Property?”

For the purpose of general discussion, "Real Property" is synonymous with "Real Estate."  Real Property is real estate (i.e. land, buildings, trees, minerals, etc.) and the rights associated with owning real estate.

Q.  What is Personal Property?

Generally, anything that can be readily moved without harm or diminishing its value is considered personal property.  This includes things like boats, airplanes, clothing, jewelry, money, toys, etc.

Q.  Is Personal Property taxed?

In New York State personal property is not taxed.  Some states do levy taxes on personal property.

Q.  How is an assessment used to determine my tax bill?

At its simplest level, your assessment is multiplied by the tax rate to determine what your tax bill will be.

The more complete answer is:

  • All assessments in the taxing jurisdiction, minus all exemptions, are added together.
  • The amount of money that will be collected (the Tax Levy) is determined by the governing body.
  • The Levy is divided by the sum of the assessments to determine the tax rate.
  • The tax rate is multiplied by the parcel's assessment, minus any exemptions, to determine the tax dollars owed.

Q.  What is an Exemption?

An Exemption reduces the taxable value of real property.  The reduction can be for part of the value (like Veterans or Senior Citizens exemptions) or for the entire value (like hospitals, firehouses, or schools.)  An exemption can only be granted pursuant to a specific State or Federal law.

Q.  Do all towns grant the same exemptions?

No.  Some exemptions are mandatory by state or federal law; the assessor must grant them if the property owner qualifies.  Some exemptions are optional; the taxing jurisdiction must pass a local law allowing the exemption.  Some exemptions must be granted unless the taxing jurisdiction passes a local law to opt out.  Some local option exemptions have further options which can change the value of the exemption from one town to the next.  (See our web page for local option exemption information.)

Q.  Once I have an exemption do I need to reapply each year?

Maybe.  It depends upon the specific exemption.  Certain exemptions, like Seniors, require you to reapply because they are based on your income which can change from year to year.  Your eligibility for other exemptions, like Veterans, doesn't change so you don't need to reapply as long as you maintain the same residence.  You should check with your local assessor with regard to your specific exemptions.

If your status changes, i.e. your VA disability rating changes, or you had a Basic STAR and are now eligible for Enhanced STAR, you will need to reapply with your assessor.

Q.  How does the assessor know that I’m entitled to an exemption?

The assessor doesn't know until you submit an application.  It is the property owner’s responsibility to file for any exemptions, to file in a timely manner (prior to March 1st) and to provide proof to the assessor that they are entitled to the exemptions.

Q.  How do I know which exemptions are available to me?

You should check with your local assessor, town clerk, or your municipality’s web site or bulletin board. You can also look for exemption information on the State’s Property Tax Exemption webpage. Our Local Options in Exemption Administration page also has information you might find useful.

The most common exemptions on privately owned homes are: Veterans, Senior Citizens, and the STAR exemption.

Q.  What happens if I buy a house that has an exemption?

When the ownership of a parcel transfers the assessor must immediately remove any exemptions.  You may be subject to a prorated tax for part of the year.  It is your responsibility to apply for any exemptions that you might be entitled to. This is true even if they are the same exemptions that the previous owner had.  The exception is a STAR exemption, which will remain on the parcel for the remainder of the tax cycle.  A STAR exemption will be removed at the end of the tax cycle.  (New homebuyers are subject to the STAR credit program, which is not a property tax exemption. You must register directly with NYS Tax & Finance.)

Q.  I have a Senior Citizens exemption, but the value is different for my School tax than it is for my County or Town tax. Why?

There are two possibilities:

You may have other exemptions that are calculated before the seniors for town/county purposes that do not apply to school taxes, or

The income limits for your school district may be different than the limits for your town or the county.  This would give you a different exemption amount based on the same income. (See our local options in exemption administration page.)

Q.  Housing values have changed, but my assessor has not changed my assessment. Why?

You may be in a town that is not assessing at market value.  In these towns the assessments remain relatively constant, but the market value they represent changes.  The assessments must still all represent the same percentage of market value for each property.

In a town where the assessor is reassessing each year, their analysis may indicate that a change in your assessment is not warranted.  This does not mean a change in assessment will not be made in future years.

Q.  What is an Equalization Rate?

The equalization rate is the ratio of assessed value to market value for the town overall.  Some towns assess at full market value, and some assess at a fraction of market value. A town that assesses at market value will have an equalization rate of 100.00.

View the NYS Tax & Finance's web page regarding Equalization Rates.

Q.  How does an equalization rate affect my tax bill?

For tax jurisdictions that cross town lines (like the county or a school district) it wouldn't be fair to apply the same tax rate against all assessments since Town A may be assessing at market value and Town B may not.  The assessments for these towns are all brought up to market value, or “equalized,” by dividing the sum of assessments by the equalization rate for that town before tax rates are calculated.  This ensures that a property with a market value of $300,000 in Town A pays the same amount of tax as a $300,000 property in Town B, despite the fact that assessments are at different levels in the two towns.

A tax rate of  $1.05/1,000 for School H in Town A (which assess at market value) is the same as a tax rate of  $2.10/1,000 for School H in Town B which assesses at 50% of market value.

Furthermore, some exemptions (like the Alternative Veterans and Cold War Veterans exemptions) may be adjusted by the equalization rate so that the full exemption value is the same for all recipients across all municipalities in the tax jurisdiction.

Q.  How can I get current assessment information about my (or another) property?

Check with your local assessor. You can also go to our Parcel/Access web page for assessment information for towns in Dutchess County. The information will be accurate as of the most recent assessment roll.

You can also see the Assessment Rolls for Dutchess County online.

Q.  How can I challenge an assessment?

If you feel your assessment does not accurately reflect the value of your property you should first discuss the issue with your assessor informally. If you are still not satisfied you can file a grievance. The publication What To Do If You Disagree With Your Assessment can be found on the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance website and will help with grievance procedures. Grievance day is the fourth Tuesday of May for most towns in Dutchess County. Some towns have grievance a day or two later for administrative reasons. You should check with your assessor's office to be certain of the exact date.

Q.  I owe back taxes. How can I pay them?

Contact the Commissioner of Finance for any issues relating to delinquent taxes. 

Lot/Acreage Issues (land size, Rights of Way, and restrictions.)  

Q.  How do I know if there is a Right of Way to (or across) my property?

Review your current deed and any previous deeds to your property, as well as deeds to surrounding properties.

Q.  I own several adjacent lots. How can I have two or more combined into a single parcel?

As long as the lots are not on a filed subdivision map, and are in identical ownership, they can be combined.  A form is available from your assessor or from RPTS.  Once the assessor gives their approval, the request is forwarded to RPTS.  You should be aware that you may be required to go before your town's planning board if you wish to split the lots again in the future.  The taxes must be current on all of the parcels to be combined.

If the lots are part of a filed subdivision map, an abandonment procedure (outlined in RPTL§560) must be followed.  Contact RPTS for details.

Q.  How can I split a parcel into two or more new lots?

You must get approval from your local planning board.

Q.  I have a survey that shows my parcel is larger (or smaller) than the tax map and/or assessment roll indicates. Can I have the tax map corrected?

Bring your survey to Real Property Tax Services and any appropriate adjustments will be made.

Q.  My survey or deed indicates my land size to three decimal places, (ex: 1.234 Ac.) but the tax map and assessment roll indicate only two decimal places (i.e. 1.23 Ac.) Why?

The assessment administration software provided by the State of New York only allows two decimal places for acreage.

Q.  When I look at the tax maps on line it appears that my neighbor’s garage or other structure crosses the property boundary. Is that accurate?

The tax maps and the aerial photographs are not perfect depictions of your and your neighbors' properties.  The only way to be certain that there is (or is not) an encroachment is to have a survey done.

Mailing Address and Bank Information  

Q.  I want my tax bill to go to a different address than it currently does, how can I change the mailing address?

Contact your assessor's office and ask them to make the change.  They may ask for proof that you are the owner.

Q.  I have an escrow account but I’m getting tax bills mailed directly to me. What should I do?

Contact your bank or mortgage company directly.  They have to provide the information to the County to ensure that the bills are paid by the correct escrow account.

Q.  I've paid off my mortgage and want tax bills mailed directly to me. What should I do?

Most often the bank will notify us of the change.  You should contact them first.  You may request in writing that we remove the codes from the data file, but because many banks provide the codes electronically for their customers there is a chance that the code will be reinstated.

Q.  I received a tax bill in the mail that should have gone to the new owner. What should I do?

Either forward the bill to the current owner or return it to the tax collector.

Ownership Questions  

Q.  How do I remove a deceased spouse’s name from the deed?

Once executed, the deed itself cannot be changed.  You would need to have an attorney prepare a new deed.

You can have the deceased party's name removed from the assessment roll / tax bills by forwarding a copy of the death certificate to the Real Property Tax Services Office together with the Name Change/Removal Form.

Q.  How do I remove a Life Estate from a property if the life tenant has died?

Provide Real Property Tax Services with a death certificate together with the Name Change/Removal Form.

Q.  How can I remove my former spouse’s name from the property records due to a divorce settlement?

Often, divorce settlements include a deed transferring one former spouse's interest to the other.  In this case you would not need to do anything. Ownership will be changed on the assessment records after the deed is filed, just as with any other recorded transfer of ownership.

Q.  How can I change ownership into my name on property I’ve inherited?

Provide Real Property Tax Services with proof of the inheritance together with the Name Change/Removal Form.

Q.  How can I have the assessment records reflect that I have resumed using my maiden name due to a divorce?

Provide Real Property Tax Services with a copy of the divorce papers showing the name change together with the Name Change/Removal Form.

Q.  How can I have the assessment records reflect my new married name?

Provide Real Property Tax Services with a copy of the marriage certificate together with theName Change/Removal Form.