2014 Connecticut Real Estate Tax Revaluation
Hinckley Allen Real Estate Alert
December 3, 2013
By: Lisa A. Zaccardelli
Property owners in about one-fifth of Connecticut municipalities will soon be receiving revaluation notices. The new property valuation should reflect 70% of the property’s fair market value as of October 1, 2013. Unless challenged, the value will become final and effective for the next five years. State law allows the new valuations to be challenged in all municipalities. However, doing so can be complicated and time consuming and requires careful adherence to strict deadlines and procedures.
When you receive a revaluation notice, it should be carefully reviewed. These revaluations are typically conducted by private appraisal firms and may contain factual errors or flawed assumptions. If you believe that your property is overvalued, the first step is to see if your notice invites you to informally discuss the new appraisal with the revaluation company. Although not required for a later formal assessment challenge, these meetings, if properly prepared for, occasionally yield reasonable concessions with minimal effort and expense.
The next step would be to seek a formal real estate tax abatement by filing an appeal with the Board of Assessment (sometimes called the Board of Tax Appeals) for the municipality in which the real estate is located. Abatement requests must be filed by February 20, 2014 or, in some towns, March 20, 2014. This filing is mandatory, and if the deadline is missed, all rights to appeal may be lost. Because forms for these filings take time to prepare, our office should be contacted well before the deadline. Once the forms are filed, a hearing will be scheduled for March or April 2014. At the hearing, evidence of your property’s fair market value should be presented. We can help do this in the most cost-effective manner. The Board must then mail a written notice of its decision within one week of the hearing.
With large commercial properties and/or properties with large discrepancies in valuations, we have found that Boards are often reluctant to reduce their assessments at these hearings. In such cases, the next step is to appeal the municipal Board’s decision to the Connecticut Superior Court. This appeal must be filed within two months of the mailing date of the Board’s written decision. At a formal trial, lawyers for the property owner and municipality both present expert opinions and other evidence to a judge, who renders an impartial final valuation.
By lowering the value of a municipal reassessment, property owners can lock in potentially large real estate tax savings for at least the next five years. However, the decision to initiate an appeal is not always easy, and the time and expense of pursuing it must be weighed against its chances of success and the total savings that may be realized.
Hinckley Allen’s team of experienced property valuation attorneys can help you identify which revaluations are worth challenging, and we can assist you in all steps of the appeals process. If you have any questions about your revaluation notice, or if you feel your assessment is unfair, please contact us.