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> Assessment Frequently Asked Questions

Contact Information

ASSESSMENT OFFICE
128 E Buffalo St
Building C
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-5517
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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I have to reapply each year for my STAR exemption?
  2. Is it my responsibility to register for the new STAR Check credit?
  3. Why did New York State change the STAR exemption to a STAR check credit?
  4. My taxes are too high. I want my taxes lowered. How do I do so?
  5. How are taxes determined?
  6. What is fair market value?
  7. Can the Tompkins County Department of Assessment change the mailing address to which I receive tax bills?
  8. What information on properties can be disclosed by your office?

 




Do I have to reapply each year for my STAR exemption?

Maybe.

  • If you are not 65 years of age, you are only eligible for the Basic STAR and you do not need to reapply each year. The only reason you would have to reapply is if there was a change in ownerhip or if you moved your primary residence to another house that you owned
  • If you are over 65 years of age and you file a New York State Income Tax Return, you may elect to sign up for the Income Verification Program that allows the Department of Assessment to automatically check your income each year with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance. If you elect to sign up for this program, you do not need to reapply each year.
  • If you are over 65 years of age and elect not to sign up for the above mentioned Income Verification Program, you must reapply each yaer. Also if your Income is under ~$32,400, you must reapplay each year in order to make sure you are granted the largest exemption you are entitled to.

Is it my responsibility to register for the STAR check credit?

    • Yes. The STAR exemption has changed for new STAR recipients (or people who received the STAR but have moved to a new house).  It is now a person income tax credit and you can register with New York State to receive this credit in the form a check.  Please go to http://www.tax.ny.gov to register for your check.  Unfortunately since this is now a personal income tax credit, New York State will only share limited information regarding this program with the Department of Assessment so we will be of little assistance to you as you register for this.

Why did New York State change the STAR exemption to a STAR check credit?

    • Because New York State has good accountants.  By calling it a personal income tax credit, the state can “spend less money” however, they will receive less income as this is now an income tax credit, so in the end they will actually spend more money administering this program.  As they now must mail checks to tens of thousands of property owners (and verify their eligibility), they are spending a significant more amount of money prior simply to now say that they are “spending less money” (but they are receiving less income).

My taxes are too high. I want my taxes lowered. How do I do so?

  • The Tompkins County Department of Assessment does not determine the amount of taxes that a property is responsible for paying. The Department of Assessment has the responsibility of assessing all real property within Tompkins County at a uniform percentage of fair market value. If a property's assessment is not at this uniform percentagee, the Department of Assessment will be more than happy to review that assessment and make the necessary adjustment. However, if the property's assessment is at that uniform percentage (and all applicable exemptions are being applied to that property) - there is absolutely nothing the Department of Assessment can do to lower that property's taxes. The only avenue that is available to is let your voice known at the respective Budget Hearings each taxing jurisdiction holds.
  • Contact your state representatives.  For your 2016 tax bill, about 70% of your county taxes went towards New York State Mandates - programs that New York State requires the county to administer but does not pay towards them.

How are taxes determined?

  • Each year the Tompkins County Department of Assessment files a final assessment roll with the County Clerk's Department. This final assessment roll catalogs and values all the real property within Tompkins County that is subject to taxation (referred to as Total Taxable Value). Also, each year each taxing jurisdiction determines how much revenue they would like to generate via the property tax (referred to as Tax Levy). The tax rate is found by using the equation Tax Rate = 1000*([Taxable Value] / [Tax Levy] ). This formula puts the tax rate in a per thousand of taxable value figure. Now you multiple the tax rate by how many thousands taxable value in your parcel - that is your tax bill. Note: If the Total Taxable Value were to increase, the same amount of money could be generated by the taxing jurisdiction by decreasing the tax rate a corresponding precentage.

What is fair market value?

  • Fair market value is defined by the Institute of Assessing Officers as "The most probable sale price of a property in terms of money in a competitve and open market, assuming that the buyer and seller are acting prudently and knowledgeable, allowing sufficient time for the sale, and assuming that the transaction is not affected by undue pressures." Market Price is the value that 1 buyer and 1 seller agree on to transfer a house. While this price might be reflective of the fair market value of the property, 1 sale alone does not make a market.

Can the Tompkins County Department of Assessment change the mailing address to which I receive tax bills?

  • Yes. Address changes can be done by telephone (607)274-5517 or stopping by our office located on 128 E. Buffalo Street, 2nd Floor and a Change of Address Order can be completed and submitted for you. Our office cannot however change the Name of Owner of Record without receiving the appropriate paperwork.

What information on properties can be disclosed by your office?

  • Our office is established with public computers that place property records at you fingertips. Property record cards, deed history cards, surveys (if filed with our office), tax maps and various other property information can be accessed. You are also welcome to look at hard copies of the property information listed above. Any income related information that you provide to the Tompkins County Department of Assessment is strictly CONFIDENTIAL and will NEVER be distributed to the general public.