On August 8, 2012 Nassau County filed a Notice of Appeal, which stayed Judge Thomas Adams’ Order that required the County to pay property tax refunds within 60 days, or risk having its bank accounts seized. While the County stated it filed the notice of appeal to preserve its rights, the appeal only prolongs the inevitable: the County must return to its taxpayers the property tax revenue received as a result of Court Ordered and mutually acknowledged over-assessments. This has created what one might call quite an “assessment mess.” Erin O’Brien, a partner with the law firm of Cronin, Cronin & Harris, P.C., advises that numerous Nassau County attorneys are working with the attorneys for property taxpayers in hopes of obtaining a mutually beneficial and prompt solution for this ever-growing, looming issue.
Going forward, County Executive Ed Mangano attempted to make some strides to end the accumulation of residential property tax assessment debt. Specifically, Mangano’s Administration adopted a Residential Property Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights which includes an annual administrative review of property tax assessments and the right to know the basis for any administrative review determination. If taxpayers are dissatisfied, a Small Claims Review (SCAR) proceeding is available. Mangano is hoping to apply some of these same techniques to the commercial appeals, which represent about 80% of the refunds due.
Critics say Mangano’s efforts are not enough because they fail to address the real problems in the County’s assessment system, namely the outstanding liability of $336 million in commercial refunds, or having any sort of plan to deal with commercial assessments. Moreover, as a result of some of these changes, many homeowners saw their school taxes increase between 6% and 16% – far above the 2% cap. One reason – the tax burden in Nassau County is actually distributed unevenly. Another reason – in an effort to resolve grievances before school tax payments were due, the County granted generous reductions to those who filed grievances leaving those who did not file appeals stuck with a higher tax burden.
Will Nassau County’s property tax assessment system ever be fixed? Stay tuned – only time will tell.
This Blog was written with the assistance of Rebecca Speno and Erin O’Brien.