Real property in The Empire State is taxed locally and according to its fair market value. State law requires that each piece of property in most cities be assessed at a uniform percentage of value. That percentage can be anything, whether 5%, 10%, or even 50% insofar as the percentage does not exceed 100. As this site shows, each municipality has a different level of assessment (e.g. Albany at 100, Berne at 60, and Windsor at 75) but for the most part, levels are well over 50 across the board.
Because of this variation (i.e. the fact that all municipalities do not assess property at the same percentage of market value), and because taxing jurisdictions such as school districts do not share the same taxing boundaries as cities and towns that are responsible for assessing properties, New York implements an equalization rate. An equalization rate is in essence the state’s measure of a municipality’s level of assessment. It’s expressed as a ratio of total assessed value (AV) to the municipality’s total market value (MV); the formula goes like this: AV / MV = Equalization Rate
The impacts it has on you as a taxpayer is simple: it’s a means to raise enough revenue to fund local governments and schools. In fact, it’s the state’s largest revenue source for such purposes. More information on equalization rates can be found here (including a printable version)
Owner-occupied, primary residences can be partially exempt from school property taxes under the state’s School Tax Relief (STAR) program. STAR comes in two manifestations: Basic and Enhanced.
- Basic STAR has no restrictions based on age or income and is available to owner-occupied, primary residences. Basic STAR exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of the property from school taxes.
- Enhanced STAR exempts seniors (age 65 and older) from the first $56,800 of the full value of their property from school taxes. The household income cannot exceed the statewide standard.
To get the STAR exemption, you must fill out an application with your local assessor, which are available either through their office or online. The deadline for filing an application is March 1 in most municipalities but may vary. Read here for more information on STAR.
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance