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Richard Fromewick Authors, "Nassau’s ‘Disputed Assessment Fund’ is Worse than Confusing" for Long Island Business News

Jul 1, 2016

Publication Source: Long Island Business News


Nassau County has received New York State’s approval to increase the real estate taxes on commercial properties to create a Disputed Assessment Fund “DAF” to be used for real estate tax refunds.

Protests to Nassau’s tax assessments have to be made more than a year before the tax bills are promulgated. The county claims they want to hold hearings or conferences in advance of the tax bills being prepared. The simple fact is that the infrastructure is not there so this scheme to have the commercial taxpayers fund their own refunds has been created.

This new program claims to affect only commercial property taxpayers that have protested their real estate tax assessment in January 2015 for the 2016/’17 tax year. Those commercial property taxpayers filing petitions by April 30, 2016 will make two tax payments on the January 2017 general tax bill.

Sounds confusing – it gets much worse. Part of the real estate tax payment this coming January will be put in the newly created DAF, for any commercial property taxpayer that petitioned for a tax assessment decrease in January 2015. Because all of the school districts, towns and special districts won’t receive 100 percent of the tax assessment the tax rate will have to rise on all commercial properties. On the Nassau County website there are frequently asked questions about the DAF.

Unfortunately, the answers on the website do not answer the important questions. The most important question for every commercial taxpayer is “How much more will they have to pay on their January 2017 general tax bill?” That question cannot be answered until the fund is created and the tax rate increases to make up for the monies directed to the fund.

Another question is: “For those filing a petition demanding an assessment decrease will they have to pay more depending on how much of a decrease they claim?” No answer forthcoming from the county.

This statutory plan is certainly not transparent as there are so many unanswered questions – and Nassau County commercial taxpayers deserve answers.

Over the decades, Nassau County has refunded hundreds of millions of dollars because of successful tax certiorari protests. Now, the commercial property taxpayers will be over-taxed so that any refunds will come from that over-payment. To protect themselves, commercial property taxpayers have to have their tax assessment reviewed every year to see if they are over-assessed.

The tax assessment protest period for this year ended on March 1, 2016. However, it is not too late to review the assessment and get answers from the assessor and county officials to explain how every commercial taxpayer will be affected.