An assessment roll is a public record containing the information about property and individual pieces of land. Essentially, it’s a tax roll that lists every property within a jurisdiction.

Assessment rolls are used primarily in New York state to determine each block’s value and help establish what property taxes owners should pay. Other states may use similar assessments to establish property tax valuations.

What is an assessment roll?

Assessment rolls are a compiled list of tax information for every property in a particular municipality or county of New York state, also called assessing units. Information in these documents includes full market value of the parcel and the date in which the valuation was carried out by the assessors.

The assessment roll helps determine the property’s taxable value after exemptions have been applied. Each assessment roll is confirmed by an assessor’s oath on the last page. If a property owner is not in agreement with the assessment, they can contest it.

Municipalities usually publish final and tentative assessment rolls annually. The New York Department of Taxation and Finance indicates assessing units typically publish their tentative rolls on May 1. During this period, homeowners can check their property’s market value, as well as any other homes in the state. The annual property tax bills are created based on the contents of the final assessment roll, which is published on July 1 for the calendar year. Taxes determined by the assessment roll go toward funding municipal projects in the corresponding neighborhood.

What information is on an assessment roll?

The information readily available on an assessment roll depends on your municipality or county’s assessor’s office.

At a minimum, the assessment roll will have the full residential address of the property, as well as a legal description of the property with lot numbers, tracts or section numbers to describe the location. It may also list the name of the property owner and the assessed value for the property, plus the date the assessment was last updated.

Some municipalities will list even more detail on their assessment rolls, including the phone number of the property owner, the owner’s residential address (if different from the assessed property in question) and the entire property tax assessment and ownership history. If the property is owned by a nonprofit, the roll may also list the affiliation of the institution as religious, educational or charitable.

What are assessment rolls used for?

Assessment rolls have one primary purpose: They are used by counties and municipalities to track ownership and home values so properties are taxed accurately.

In addition to their primary function, assessment rolls have numerous secondary uses. The data contained within them can be used to track home price and value trends, as well as overall ownership trends. For example, an increase in companies listed as property owners in an area can indicate a shifting towards an increased rental market.

Assessment rolls are also used by real estate investors to locate and contact homeowners to try to purchase their property. Enterprising investors will look up all the properties in an area at a certain value and call or write handwritten letters to the owners to offer to buy the home, even if it’s not listed on the market yet.

How do I check my property on an assessment roll?

Figuring out what entity has the assessment roll is the most difficult part of checking your property. While New York allows you to search for your assessment by city, village or town, that may not necessarily be the case in your state, whether it uses assessment rolls or some other form of tax assessment.

For example, residents of Cleveland, Ohio won’t find an assessment roll with the city of Cleveland, but you can find property assessments on the Cuyahoga county website.

Most of the country does assessment rolls or other tax valuations through county offices. To verify, you may be able to check with your mortgage company or contact the entity to which you currently pay property taxes.