Bridgeport property tax appeal deadline means commercial property owners should act fast

posted by Nicholas Vitti January 21, 2016


With a new municipal real estate tax assessment mailed out in January 2015, owners of real property in the City of Bridgeport may be considering the merit of pursuing an adjustment. Because valuation law provides a limited window of time to file a property tax appeal, fast action is needed.

City of Bridgeport real estate tax appeal deadline

Real property owners who believe their new municipal real estate tax assessment exceeds fair market value as of the October 1, 2015 revaluation date have the right to challenge the assessment. However, they must act within specific timeframes. If the issue is not resolved through an informal meeting with the assessor — usually offered in the first few weeks after tax assessments are mailed out — a written appeal must be filed with the Board of Assessment Appeals on or before February 20th of the year following the October 1st Grand List. This year, due to the revaluation, the City of Bridgeport has extended its deadline for filing a written tax appeal to March 18, 2016.

Filing a written appeal with the Board of Assessment Appeals is a critical step to preserve the right to pursue an adjustment. Property owners who do not file a timely written appeal will, in most cases, lose the opportunity to challenge the assessment in the current tax year. Read more about the municipal tax valuation cycle.

Considering a tax appeal? Three things to know when reviewing an assessment:

1. Look at the mill rate to determine the impact to your next tax bill (particularly if you own commercial property in Bridgeport). A revaluation does not, in itself, result in a tax increase. However, it often shifts the municipal tax burden between categories of properties. In the City of Bridgeport, residential assessments are reportedly down, and therefore commercial property owners will likely see a greater impact to their ad valorem tax bill. Review with close attention any assessment notices for office buildings, retail space, manufacturing facilities or other types of commercial property. Read more about challenging your real estate tax assessment.

2. If an assessment increase appears excessive, act now. In Connecticut, municipalities follow a five-year revaluation cycle. Property owners may challenge assessments during a specific window of time for each tax year; however, potential tax savings are maximized when appeals happen early in the five-year cycle. For example, a reduction of $100,000 in assessed value at Bridgeport’s current mill rate of $42.10 translates into an annual tax savings of $4,210 — a total savings of $21,050 over a five-year revaluation cycle.

3. Know your rights as a commercial property owner when it comes to property tax appeals. Under Connecticut law, tenants may pursue a real estate tax appeal if a recorded lease requires them to pay property taxes. Additionally, commercial leases commonly include clauses that permit tenants to challenge assessments at their own expense, with the consent of the property owner. The risk: if a tenant successfully obtains a reduction based on inaccurate information or criteria that negatively impacts the perceived market value, it could result in an actual loss of property value. Experienced legal counsel can craft commercial leases that allow property owners to direct the appeal process. Read more about commercial properties and valuation appeals.

Weighing the merit of pursuing a property tax appeal can be especially complex for commercial properties, and involving an experienced real estate appraiser and competent counsel early in the process can be of great value.

The most important factor, however, is acting in a timely manner to preserve the right to pursue an adjustment for the 2016 tax year. In the City of Bridgeport, this means filing a written tax appeal with the Board of Assessment Appeals no later than Friday, March 18th, 2016.

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