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Features

What Every Homeowner Must Know

Part II: Your step-by-step guide to cutting your home’s assessment

About 80 percent of Nassau County’s tax grievances every year are filed by outside companies, rather than by the homeowners themselves. Many homeowners believe that they will be more successful if they hire an outside firm.  Yet, when individual homeowners file by themselves, they receive the full benefit of the tax reduction.  Outside firms and attorneys typically charge fees between 35 and 50 percent of the homeowner’s first year’s savings.  The success rate for homeowners filing themselves is almost the same as for those using representatives.  For the 2012-13 tax year, 80.1 percent of homeowners filing themselves received reductions and 82.6 percent of those using a representative received reductions, according to Darlene Harris, chairperson of the Assessment Review Commission (ARC).   

The County makes information on grieving property assessments very accessible.  The ARC website guides residents in the steps for filing a grievance. Through the ARC’s online appeal system, AROW, homeowners can first determine if their homes are overvalued.  Once a determination that a property value is excessive has been made, it’s time to file an application for correction of assessment, either by paper or online.  Filing online is recommended, as it is faster and more accurate. There is no fee to file the appeal.  In 2013, the filing period runs until May 1.

There are three different forms that may be used to file a grievance, depending on both the type of property and claim. All three forms, named AR 1, AR 2 and AR 3, can be downloaded from the ARC’s website at http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/ARC/forms.html.

Once the form is filed with all necessary documentation, professional appraisers at the ARC review the submissions. No personal appearance is necessary. The determination is made strictly from the information supplied on the application.  

Homeowners can’t expect to receive a decision immediately, however. The ARC website indicates, in fact, that it may not be made for up to 15 months for a determination, until March/April of the following year. Furthermore, homeowners who file grievances in most cases will not receive a refund of taxes paid.  Rather, the reduction will affect future tax payments only.    

The ARC will host community meetings in 2013 to educate residents on the grievance procedure. Those meetings are open to the public, and free of charge. The meetings are sponsored by local county legislators, and they run through the end of February. Find your legislator at www.nassaucountyny.gov, and go to the drop-down menu on the left for Nassau County government.

If, after the ARC makes its final determination, a homeowner either does not receive a reduction or is not satisfied with the proposed reduction, further review is available.  At that point, the homeowner may seek either Small Claims Assessment Review (SCAR) by filing a petition, which many homeowners pursue on their own, or file a lawsuit against the County in State Supreme Court, which generally requires an attorney.  Although there is no fee for filing the initial grievance, there is a filing fee at this second stage of the process.

Before deciding to file a grievance, whether individually or by retaining an outside firm, homeowners should review the ARC website at www.nassaucountyny.gov/ agencies/ ARC or call the ARC’s customer service number at 516-571-2391 with questions.

 

Nassau Taxes: Ouch!

Nassau County homeowners pay among the highest median property taxes in the country. The average Nassau County tax bill for 2012-13 school taxes was $7321 and the average tax bill for 2013 general taxes was $3187, stated Randy Yunker, communications director for the Department of Assessment.  According to the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C., Nassau County’s median real estate tax of $9,289 per household in 2010 ranked it second highest in the country out of 806 counties with populations of over 65,000. That figure, though, may be driven more by the home prices relative to the rest of the country, and less by the actual property tax rate, said Nick Kasprak, a programmer and analyst at the Tax Foundation.