Commercial Tax Assessments in WNY

HUNT Commercial Real Estate would like to thank Michael J. Hughes and Ashley L. Swan from the Law Offices of Michael J Hughes, PLLC for meeting with us to discuss property tax assessments and the potential property tax assessment issues business owners can face when buying, selling, or renovating commercial real estate properties. Hughes discussed what assessments are based on, how assessments can change, how to know if an assessment is too high, and the process of challenging an assessment.

Hughes shared that residential assessments are based on size, condition, and recent comparable sales in the neighborhood or similar neighborhoods. They can also be based on recent sales of the residential property itself. Commercial assessments however are based on recent comparable sales, as well as an analysis of the income and expenses of the property.

A property’s tax assessment is not set in stone. It will typically change when there is a reevaluation of the entire town or city. An assessment may also change if there have been improvements made to the property, or if the property has undergone some type of destruction.

If a property is assessed higher than recent sales of similar properties in the area, including the sale of the property itself, or a recent appraisal of the property, the assessment may be too high. For commercial properties, an income and expense analysis will indicate the proper assessment.

The tentative tax rolls for towns are published on May 1st each year. If you disagree with this number, a grievance must be filed by last week of May. If your property is located in a city however, these dates may vary. Once a grievance has been filed, a hearing is held before the Board of Assessment Review, and a decision will be rendered by July 1st. If you still feel that the assessed value is incorrect, the decision can be appealed. For residential properties, a Small Claims Assessment Review or “SCAR” appeal is filed. For commercial properties, an Article VII appeal is filed in Supreme Court. The deadline for these proceedings is July 31st. Hughes represent owners at all stages of these proceedings.


The Law Offices of Michael J. Hughes, PLLC has over 30 years of experience in representing municipalities, homeowners and commercial property owners in property tax assessment challenges across western New York and adjoining counties. His office also offers services in Real Estate Closings and other property related matters. Find The Law Offices of Michael J. Hughes, PLLC online at