Nassau County's property tax roll will remain the same for...

Nassau County's property tax roll will remain the same for a fourth year, which experts say could lead to more homeowners filing appeals and more inequities in the system. Credit: Newsday/John Keating

Nassau County has frozen its property tax rolls for a fourth straight year and made it easier for challengers to win reductions — factors that also expand inequities in assessments and erode the accuracy of the rolls, experts say.

County Executive Bruce Blakeman froze the property rolls for the 2025-2026 tax year, keeping assessments for the county's 385,000 homeowners the same as the prior four years.  

By continuing to freeze, "property assessments are no longer based on their actual value,” said Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuels, a Manhattan appraisal firm that publishes Long Island housing market reports for real estate firm Douglas Elliman. 

Nassau's long-standing practice of granting reductions to many homeowners who appeal has shifted hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax burden onto taxpayers who don't. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Nassau County has frozen property tax rolls for a fourth straight year and made it easier for challengers to win reductions.
  • These are factors that also expand inequities in property assessments and erode the accuracy of the rolls, experts say.
  • The county has extended the deadline for filing appeals to March 18.

Values were last updated for the 2021-22 tax year, under the administration of former County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat who had broken a decadelong freeze the previous tax year and reassessed all 425,000 property values. 

For the next two years, Curran ordered new freezes, citing instabilities in the housing market during the coronavirus pandemic. Blakeman, a Republican who took office in 2022, has frozen the rolls twice.

Nassau Legis. Debra Mulé (D-Freeport) said the freezes have created a “degraded assessment roll.”

“The issue is that we’ve gone back to the days when in order to get a fair assessment and make sure you’re not paying too much, you have to grieve your own taxes," Mulé said. "That should be the government’s job to make sure the assessments are correct, and the administration is not making that happen.”

Acting Assessor Joseph Adamo said in a statement: "As a result of the instability in the real estate market, for a multitude of reasons including post COVID and inflation, it is prudent to freeze the rolls for an additional year to provide stability to taxpayers."

Why wait?

Real estate experts say the market isn't likely to revert to pre-pandemic times.

Housing prices have risen sharply over the past four years, by more than 33%. The median home price in Nassau, in the fourth quarter of 2019, was $535,000, compared with $715,000 in the fourth quarter of 2023, Miller said.

The prices are stubbornly high mainly because of a lack of inventory, he said.

“I’m not sure what [county officials] are waiting for because the lack of supply isn’t changing, quickly," Miller said. “It’s hard to imagine prices would have to fall sharply to return to pre-pandemic levels.” 

Blakeman has said he wants to wait until at least 2025 to update the rolls. That's when a major tax break for hundreds of thousands of homeowners, known as the "Five Year Phase In," expires. It has allowed homeowners to have their new values updated over a five-year period and avoid immediate tax hikes that would have occurred when their homes were reassessed in 2020.

Many homeowners whose taxes are undervalued are likely to see significant tax increases when the county decides to reassess properties again, experts said. 

“Anytime that an assessment is not based on market value, then there’s no way you can guarantee equity," said Larry Clark, retired director of strategic initiatives for the nonprofit International Association of Assessing Officers. "It amounts to no more than a guess."

"It’s not going to pretty when it is corrected," Clark added. "There’s going to be some pretty dramatic changes in values."

Grievances remain high

The volume of tax protests has remained high since the four-year freeze began. Nassau has settled about 70% of all cases in recent years.

When the rolls were frozen from 2012 through 2019, the county had settled more than 1 million residential tax challenges, or about 80% of them. 

In the first year of reassessment, the number of reductions dropped from 80% in the 2019-20 tax year to 25% in 2020-21. But the number has risen since, doubling to 48% in 2021-22. The county granted reductions to 73% of challengers in 2022-23 and 67% in 2023-24.

Overall, Nassau has made it easier for grievers to win reductions by lowering the level of assessment applied to them.

All homeowners are given a “tentative assessed value” in January of each year, using a level of assessment of .1%. But those who grieve are granted a different level that has dropped steadily in recent years due to a court-ordered settlement with law firms that handle tax protests. For the 2024-25 tax year, the level of assessment was .072%.

In a 2021 audit, the Nassau Comptroller's Office expressed concern about that policy.

"Property owners who did not know a separate [level of assessment]  was negotiated, may not have filed grievances. The combination of a frozen roll and separately negotiated [level of assessment] caused similar properties with similar market values to have disparate assessed values, shifting the tax burden, from those that grieved to those that did not."

The county has extended this year's deadline for filing appeals to March 18.

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