Kandy Wittmeyer, Tax Assessor
*** DEADLINE FOR ALL EXEMPTIONS IS MARCH 1st***
The Town of Bennington Assessor's Office is responsible for creating fair and equitable assessments yearly. We administer real property tax exemptions as provided by the New York State Real Property Tax Law and locally adopted laws. We continually educate the general public about Real Property Assessment Administration. We strive to expand our professional abilities through Continuing Education annually.
Description of Duties of the Assessor
The assessor is the official who estimates the value of real property within the town's boundaries. This value is converted into an assessment, which is one component in the computation of real property tax bills.
The assessor maintains the assessment roll - the document that contains every property's assessment. To do this, the physical description, or inventory and value estimate of every parcel of real estate in the municipality is kept up-to-date. The property inventory is available for inspection by appointment before the filing of the tentative assessment roll.
The assessment roll shows assessments and appropriate exemptions. Every year the roll, with preliminary, or tentative, assessments is made available for public inspection. After the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) has acted on assessment complaints and ordered any changes, the tentative roll is made final.
What Kind of Property is Assessed?
All real property, commonly known as real estate, is assessed. Real property is defined as land and any permanent structures attached to it. Some examples of real property are houses, gas stations, office buildings, vacant land, shopping centers, apartment buildings, and restaurants.
How is Real Property Assessed?
Before assessing any parcel of property, the assessor estimates its market value. Market value is how much a property would sell for, in an open market, under normal conditions. To estimate market values, the assessor must be familiar with all aspects of the local real estate market.
A property's value can be estimated in three different ways:
Market approach - the property is compared to others similar to it that have sold recently, using only sales where the buyer and seller both acted without undue pressure.
Cost approach - calculate what the property would cost, using today's labor and material prices, to replace the structure with a similar one. This method is used to value special purposes and utility properties.
Income approach - analyze how much income a property, like an apartment building, a store or factory, will produce if rented. Operating expenses, insurance, maintenance costs, financing terms, and how much money owners expect to make on this type of property are considered.
Once the assessor estimates the market value of a property, its assessment is calculated. New York State law provides that all property within a municipality be assessed at a uniform percentage of market value. Everyone pays his or her fair share of taxes as long as every property in a locality is assessed at the same percentage of value.
Who Do I Contact With My Questions?
The assessor is continually communicating with the public, answering questions, and dealing with concerns raised by taxpayers. Anyone can examine the assessment roll and property records at any time.
It is up to individual property owners to monitor their own assessments. Taxpayers who feel they are not being fairly assessed should meet with the assessor before the tentative assessment roll is established. In an informal setting the assessor can explain how the assessment was determined and rationale behind it.
Assessors are interested only in fairly assessing property in their assessing unit. If your assessment is correct and your tax bill still seems too high, the assessor cannot change that. Complaints to the assessor must be about how property is assessed.
Informal meetings with assessors to resolve assessment questions about the next assessment roll can take place throughout the year. If after speaking to your assessor you still feel you are unfairly assessed, please refer to the booklet, "What To Do If You Disagree With Your Assessment". It describes how to prepare and file a complaint with the Board of Assessment Review for an assessment reduction and indicates the time of year it can be done.
To learn more about the assessment process, please call the assessor at 585-591-2157 or email at email@example.com.
STAR Program: Information for the 2018 School Bill and beyond
Effective May 1st of 2016, a new law was passed as it relates to how the Basic and Enhanced STAR exemptions are applied for and deilvered to new property owners. If your property sale/transfer took place after the March 1st of 2015, you will be part of this new process.
In the past, you would register with the local Assessor's office. Then new process is to register with, and is handled by, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The new process is recapped below:
Property owners apply for the STAR Rebate with the New York State Department of Taxation and Fianance. All applications will be sent to them. The local Assessor will not handle this. The STAR exemption will now be in the form of a Rebate Check to the property owner.
New York State has a web based application OR you can call in and register. The web applciation is at The customer call in line is 518-457-2036. Representatives of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance can assist you in the process.
SENIOR CITIZEN EXEMPTIONS (In addtion to the Enhanced Star)
In order to qualify for the exemption, the following requirements must be met:
The owner, or if the residence is owned by more than one person, all of the owners (except in the case of a spouse), must be 65 years of age or older as of December 31, in the year of filing. When the property is owned jointly by husband and wife, only one spouse is required to be 65 years of age or older.
Total Household Income Cannot exceed $22,400.
The property must be used exclusively for residential purposes and must be occupied in whole or part by the owner(s) and must be their legal residence.
Title to the property must be vested in the owner of the property prior to the date of application. Property must be owned at least one year prior to May 1st in any given year.
The law specifies that income includes: Social Security and Retirement Benefits, Interest, Dividends, Net Rental Income, Salary of earnings and Net Income if self-employed. The income reported is for a twelve (12) month period., for which the owner(s) filed a Federal Income Tax Return. Or, if no such return is filed, the income for the calendar year preceding the date of filing. Income must include the income of both husband and wife or all property owners.
What to bring with you when applying for partial tax exemption real property of aged persons.
NOTICE - You must bring your SOCIAL SECURITY 1099 FORM with you that you received early in January. THIS IS A MUST.
A copy of your Income Tax Form, if one was filed, signed by the person making out the form.
Salary, wages, bonuses, total dividends, gains from sales or exchanges and all taxable annuity payments.
ALL BANK INTEREST FORMS 1099-INT that were mailed to you in January. All interest on Non-Taxable State and Local Bonds and interest only on IRA accounts (not the original amount) must also be included.
The total amount received from Government or Private Retirement Pension Plans.
Rentals, business and professional (including amounts claimed as depreciation for income tax purposes), net earnings from farming.
Unemployment Insurance Payments, Disability Payments, Workmen's Compensation Payments.
Alimony or support money and any other income.
IF YOU ARE FILING FOR THE FIRST TIME, YOU MUST ALSO BRING PROOF OF AGE AND INCOME.