Tuesday, January 5, 2016

When I go to the mynassauproperty.com website, my property’s market value seems low. Does that mean I shouldn’t grieve?

On January 4, 2016 the Nassau County Assessor published the new real estate tax assessments for all residential and commercial taxpayers.  The filing period of the Assessment Review Commission (ARC) to protest, grieve and make complaints of the assessments is open until March 1, 2016.  Since the assessments are not made at full market value the ratio of assessment to market value changes every year.  The market values on the Nassau County website are artificially much lower than the actual values that you are being assessed at because the Assessor does not use the current ratio.  The estimated market value assigned by the Assessor is probably higher this year than last year. This is because the County does not want to show you how high they are actually assessing your property - in essence, they are misleading website visitors.

Everyone should have their assessment professionally checked every year; if no timely protest is made you are stuck with what might be a much higher value and a greater tax burden.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

2015 School Tax Bill Hits All Time High

Real estate tax bills are slated to be higher than ever across Long Island.  The October 2015 school tax bill reflects the higher tax Nassau County residents are paying.  As commercial and residential property owners receive assessment reductions, the tax rates move inevitably upward. Of course, the budgets increase every year as well.

Most municipalities do not assess properties at 100% of value.  You cannot simply know what market values the assessor is assigning to your property.  In fact, the only way to calculate the market value from the assessment is to know the ratio of assessment to market value for your type of property in that municipality.  The ratio changes every year to further frustrate the property owner.

New assessments are to be promulgated on January 2, 2016 for Nassau County and May 1, 2016 for Suffolk County.  The villages and cities have different dates and, of course, different assessments and ratios.  Watch your mail for any changes in the assessment and have an expert (not the municipal assessor) determine if you are being over assessed.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Real Estate Tax Reduction for Damaged Property

Super Storm Sandy is long gone, but high real estate taxes remain on many damaged properties in Nassau and Suffolk counties.  The assessors have reduced real estate taxes for those commercial and residential property owners who filed tax certiorari complaints.  Properties with similar damage that did not file complaints, for the most part, did not receive tax assessment reductions.  Even if a property received flood insurance, a FEMA payment, or financial assistance from NY Rising protests, the real estate tax assessor had to be separately filed.  The next filing date for complaints in Nassau is January 2016, and May 2016 for Suffolk.  Mistakes about the assessment can be made at any time; certainly, a property that became uninhabitable should have had the real estate tax assessment substantially reduced. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Buying Distressed/Storm Damaged Properties

Caveat Emptor! Be careful of buying properties on the cheap without checking on the real estate taxes.

Protests to achieve reductions in the real estate tax assessments must be made well in advance of the tax bills.  That is to give the Tax Assessor time to hold hearings and determine if assessment reductions should be made or if exemptions and abatements should be calculated.  If you are buying a Nassau property in May 2015 you cannot file for assessment reduction until January 2016.  That complaint is for the 2017/18 taxes.  The first tax bill will be October 2017.  That is almost 2-1/2 years after your purchase and possibly a much lower tax would be appropriate based on the reduced purchase price. 

The Suffolk real estate tax situation is similar but the period to file a grievance is in May. Village tax complaints to reduce taxes are filed in various months and are usually based on different assessments.

Thursday, April 2, 2015



Tax Certiorari complaints to reduce the real estate taxes in Huntington, Babylon, Islip, Brookhaven, Riverhead, Smithtown, Southold, Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island are due May 1, 2015. Overall, the market value of Long Island residential and commercial properties are still suffering from the stigma of the Irene and Sandy storms.

Many commercial and residential taxes are going to increase as the budget problem persists. Every real estate tax assessment should be reviewed as tax rates and equalization rates change yearly.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Have You Seen Your Bill Yet? Nassau County Taxes Have Increased

The first half of the Nassau County school taxes were just sent out to every commercial and residential tax payer.  Even if your real estate tax assessment did not increase since last year, your taxes increased.
The 2% cap passed last year is on the budgets, but if some assessments were decreased in your school districts, possibly by successful real estate tax reduction complaints, the tax rate increased more than the 2% cap.  The next time you can protest Nassau County Real Estate taxes is in January 2015.  Certainly, every tax bill should be checked for accuracy.  If there was any construction or substantial property improvement, there are tax exemptions that can be applied for before December 31st.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stop Dancing Around Tax Reform

The region’s tax burden tops every voter’s anxiety list and, almost without exception, Long Island’s elected officials have adopted the mantra of cutting government costs through a variety of mechanisms – tax caps, spending moratoriums, frozen capital improvements and the like.

These are but minor tweaks. What’s required is the genuine political will to adopt sweeping reforms that will make a strategic difference in our collective tax bill, such as the consolidation of neighboring school districts.

In examining just one program trumpeted as “tax reform,” the loopholes become apparent. When property owners take advantage of the reassessment process, the municipal revenue from that property is obviously reduced, forcing the taxing authority to make up the difference by increasing tax burdens across the board. The property owner who didn’t qualify for reassessment is subject to the financial version of double jeopardy: the overall increased burden plus an assessment that’s higher than those who successfully sought reductions.
Yet the problem is even more complex. In Valley Stream, there is not one but three school districts. Own property on the wrong corner and your tax burden could be substantially higher than the owner across the street. Consolidation would bring sanity and cost savings, but no politician dares raise this issue: School district sovereignty has become inviolate across Long Island.

Other programs, such as the state’s 2 percent cap on tax increases, are equally porous reform measures, while the governor’s proposal to incentivize local government to consolidate services will be met with the same studied indifference that politicians offered a similar proposal by my law partner, John V.N. Klein, who recommended this kind of progressive initiative decades ago. Town supervisors pocket-vetoed that plan.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a number of other options, including tying property taxes to a homeowner’s income and ability to pay. But that could create the specter of widely fluctuating tax burdens that unseat local property values.
The real means to end this crisis is a realization that the current property tax burden is simply unsupportable and consolidation is the only way to create genuine tax reform.