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Richard Fromewick Authors, “Assessment Challenges: Time Running Out”

Publication Source: Nassau Lawyer

Fromewick_RickA new year. A new Assessor. A new revaluation. You may have thought that the Court Ordered re-assessment which resulted in a re-valuation in January 2003 was going to be a fix of our out-dated assessment system. No such luck.

January 2004 gave us another re-valuation for the 2005/06 tax year. Already its complicated and the explanation is even more complicated. The 2003/04 assessments are automatically re-used for the 2004/05 assessments unless the Assessor or their re-valuation team, Cole-Layer Trumble, found a substantial change, i.e. demolition, new building, etc. The 2005/06 assessment is completely new with all new values.

According to the Disclosure Notices sent last November there was to be a new ratio from assessment to market value for commercial properties of ½ of 1% instead of last year’s ratio of 1%. However, the Assessor decided to keep the ratio at 1%, the same as last year. So disregard the disclosure notice if you have a commercial property. The one, two and three family residential properties will still be assessed at 1% but most values have increased for the 2005/06 tax year.

The assessor recently admitted that the true ratio for the residential properties was .88%; so disregard the disclosure notice if you have a residential property. The new Assessment Review Commission (ARC) announced that they are planning to have hearings on all complaints filed. Unfortunately, there are still about 80,000 complaints filed in January 2003 that have not been resolved yet. ARC is giving themselves an extra year between the complaint period which ends on March 1st, 2004 and the filing of a petition in April, 2005 to resolve new complaints.

If a property was complained of in January, 2003, the January 2004 complaint is considered automatically filed for the 2004/05 tax year. However, a new complaint against the new assessment for the 2005/06 tax year must be filed during the protest period January 1st, 2004 through March 1st, 2004.

If a complaint was not filed in January, 2003 for the 2003/04 tax year, complaints have to be filed during this protest period for both the 2004/05 year as well as the 2005/06 tax year. The Disclosure Notices sent out to taxpayers in the summer of 2002 and in November, 2003 did not communicate these dates and filing requirements with any clarity. What this means, in a nutshell, is that taxpayers have to complain each year about that tax assessment for the next year’s tax period. The sticker shock of new taxes has not reached all taxpayers since so many tax payments are made through mortgages or other service providers. Certainly, the estimated taxes on the Disclosure Notices were woefully short of the actual tax payments. That’s because they were based on prior tax rates instead of the future rates that actually pertained.

In time, we may have a fair and equitable assessment system in Nassau County. Certainly, we now have in place the infra structure and leadership to do the job. However, at the moment, we have tens of thousands of complaints filed in January, 2003, that have not been resolved and we have new assessments for 2005/06 that must be complained about before the March 1st deadline. Even though you cannot effect the tax rates of the schools, towns and villages, it is more important now then ever before that tax payers seek assistance from learned tax counsel to protect their rights to a fair assessment for now and the future.