Nassau County Seeks to Institutionalize Broken Assessments

March 30, 2018 | Articles & Press Releases

Nassau County is going to Albany in an attempt to receive legislative approval to over-tax both residential and commercial property by at least 5%, effective immediately.   The County is seeking to amend various provisions of the Real Property Tax Law (as it pertains to Nassau County ONLY).   If successful, if a property is determined to be over-assessed by 5% or less (whether through court order or settlement) there would NEITHER BE any reduction in assessment, NOR any refund due.  Moreover, even if a property is determined to be over-assessed by 5% or more,  the percentage of over-assessment would be decreased by 5%; eg: if a property is determined to be 20% over-assessed , only a 15% reduction will be ordered and only a 15% refund will be received.

Additionally, Nassau is implementing a new DAF (Disputed Assessment Fund) program that would not only be applied to commercial real property (as was done previously), but also to single family homes and class 2 apartment buildings, cooperatives and condominiums.  The DAF program seeks to fund tax refunds that the County owes as a result of its own errors, through imposition of an additional tax on all taxpayers.   In other words, it seeks to make over-taxed County taxpayers whole by adding new taxes.

The County attempted to attach these significant property tax changes in the State budget bill, which needed be approved by Sunday, April 1, 2018.

The 5% allowance for error Nassau is seeking may seem insignificant when looked at casually – nothing could be further from truth.   It is nothing short of a multi-million, perhaps billion, dollar issue.   Even local elected officials have come out against Nassau’s proposal.  Hempstead Receiver Donald Clavin very aptly described it as a “license to steal” and a “money grab”.  (Newsday, March 30, 2018).   New York Assemblyman Chuck Lavine (D-Glen Cove) announced on his Facebook page this morning that “[t]he Nassau County Assembly Democratic delegation has rejected this proposal.  It does not belong in this year’s budget”.   The 5% allowance will enable Nassau County to improperly retain unknowable amounts of tax dollars to which it is not entitled, at the expense of taxpayers already overextended to the breaking point by Nassau’s broken assessment system.

The New York State Constitution demands that real property be assessed at no more than full value.  This is yet another attempt by the County to circumvent that Constitutional mandate.

A few examples will illustrate the severity of the County’s “5% allowance for error” proposal.   If the new bill becomes law,  and the below taxpayers proved over assessment by 5%, these are the tax dollars the County would be “stealing” annually:

$500,000 residence in Bethpage school district                                          $600

$2,000,000 10 unit apartment complex in Baldwin school district               $6,500

$5,000,000 office building in Syosset school district                                    $15,000

$25,000,000 shopping center in Valley Stream school district                     $100,000

This is egregiously unfair –  it appears that the only intent of Nassau County is to continue to drive businesses to Suffolk County and New York City, and residents to North Carolina.

Despite comments to the contrary, this is not attempt to bring equity to the Nassau County assessment roll.  It is nothing more than a rushed political maneuver that will only exacerbate an already broken system.