Advisory — Nassau County Real Property Tax Alert

July 13, 2002

Reassessment notices coming to a mailbox near you.
Starting July 15, residential homeowners will start to receive notices of reassessment. Notices will be mailed out in a staggered format based upon location with the entire process completed sometime in August. For commercial properties, reassessment notices will start being mailed out August 1.

If we are not already reviewing your assessments, we would be happy to assist you. You can fax the reassessment notices directly to Art Feldman or Will Meyer at (516) 227-0777.

What is reassessment?
The reassessment will, in effect, assign new market values to almost every property in Nassau County. Your “new assessed value” will be 1% of the market value that the County determines your property to be worth. Assessed values are used to calculate the real property taxes due. The higher the assessed value, the higher the real property taxes.

The 1% solution? What goes down may go up.
Generally, residential properties have been assessed at between 2% and 3% of market value. Commercial properties have been assessed between 6% and 8% of market value. After the reassessment, it is Nassau County’s intention to assess all properties at 1% of market value. In the example below, you can see how an assessment that drops due to the reassessment may now actually reflect a higher market value due to the new 1% ratio.

Old New
Assessment $15,000 $10,000
Indicated Market Value $710,000 $1,000,000

This same principle also applies to commercial property where the “old to new” disparity will be even greater. A higher indicated market value will likely result in an increased tax burden. However, there is not a direct relationship between the market value increase and the resultant tax increase.

You Can Protest – Informal hearings start September 1.
After the reassessment notices are received, property owners will have a chance to protest their assessments at informal hearings. Starting January 1, 2003, property owners will have a chance to formally grieve the new assessment before the Nassau County Assessment Review Commission. Formal grievances must be filed with the Assessment Review Commission no later than March 1, 2003. Please note: If you wait until the tax bills are received, it is too late to protest.

First taxes affected – Fall School bill 2003.
The reassessment will first affect the 2003/04 School tax bills, the first half of which is due in October 2003, payable no later than November 10, 2003, and the 2004 General tax bills. Please note: If you wait until the tax bills are received, it is too late to protest.

New law changes key dates.
In June 2002, a law was enacted providing some changes to the operation of the Assessment Review Commission and to the administration of assessments. The most important change is that all assessment administration dates have been radically altered to give the Assessment Review Commission more time to correct assessments before tax bills are issued. The accompanying chart illustrates the new assessment schedule:

Taxes Affected

2003/04 School
2004 General 2004/05 School
2005 General 2005/05 School
2006 General
Taxable Status Date January 2, 2003 January 2, 2003 January 2, 2004
Tentative Assessment Date January 2, 2003 January 2, 2003 January 2, 2004
Grievance Filing Deadline March 3, 2003 March 3, 2003
(or March 1, 2004) March 1, 2004
Final Assessment Date April 1, 2003 April 1, 2004 April 1, 2005
Deadline for Judicial Review May 3, 2004 May 3, 2004 May 2, 2005

Cautionary note: After the 2003 and 2004 transitory period, a gap between the publication of the tentative assessment roll and the first affected tax bill will be almost two years.

Snooze and you may lose.
Under the new law, failure to comply with requests for information from the Assessment Review Commission may result in forfeiture of rights to assessment reductions.

No Need to Jump Off a Sea Cliff
Recent articles in the New York Times and Newsday address reassessment statistics that highlight Sea Cliff as having the “Highest Average Home Assessment” increase. Like most statistics, these figures can be misleading. The 29.69% increase linked to Sea Cliff does not mean that all Sea Cliff residents will see a 29.69% increase in their tax bills. Instead, this percentage provides an “average” increase in assessed value within the Sea Cliff school district. Thus, some homeowners will see their assessments decrease or rise less than the 29.69% while others will see a rise greater than 29.69%.

Perhaps more misleading is the heading to a Newsday graphic which purports to show “Changes Nassau residents may see in the county portion of their tax bills after their properties are reassessed.” Since this chart shows only average changes, residents where the average is negative (showing an average reduction in assessment) may still have their assessment increased and vice versa. Moreover, the county portion of property taxes is only about 20% or less of the overall tax bill. As an example, a 30% increase on 20% of the taxes would be an overall 6% increase. More important to property owners will be where they stand in relation to other properties in the same school district and other smaller taxing districts.

For the time being, stay away from cliffs, and don’t believe newspaper stories based on “Averages”. If you are still nervous, find out how to prepare your “Reassessment Survival Kit”.

Assembling Your Reassessment Survival Kit
In order to prepare for the Nassau County reassessment, there are a number of steps that can be taken right now to help evaluate and, perhaps, eventually challenge the new assessment assigned by the County. By taking these steps now, you can give yourself ample time to collect the information necessary to determine whether or not to grieve your new County assessment.

If you have purchased or refinanced your property in the past two years, you should locate a copy of the financing appraisal that was prepared for the transaction. These appraisals are prepared for almost all transactions involving a new mortgage. If your mortgage company or bank has not already sent you a copy of this appraisal, you can request one. With this appraisal in hand, you will then have helpful, though not conclusive, evidence of your property’s current market value. Thus, if the new County assessment translates to a higher market value, you will have evidence at hand to argue for a reduction.

All property owners should also take the time to perform an overall evaluation of their property. This entails listing the main characteristics of the property along with the positive and negative characteristics that affect the value of your property. Positive attributes can be waterviews, subdividable lots, private locations and other characteristics that are not contained in a simple description of the property. Negative attributes can include environmental issues, problems associated with an undesirable location, problems with ingress and egress, functional obsolescence of a property and other specific problems related to your property.

For commercial property owners, it will be very important to have annual operating statements for the past year, as well as a rent roll and lease abstracts. Please note that beginning in 2003, this information will need to be provided to the Nassau County Assessment Review Commission as a prerequisite to the review of your assessment. Failure to produce this information will result in an automatic denial of your grievance. Moreover, if information is requested by the Assessment Review Commission and not provided, it may result in a forfeiture of rights to a reduction.

To learn more about this new law or the reassessment, please call us. Further information can be found on the Nassau County website: www.mynassauproperty.com.

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