Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has extended the deadline for homeowners to file property tax grievances until April 2, in part to provide residents, particularly in lower income neighborhoods, with the opportunity to challenge their assessments on their own.
The last day for homeowners to file challenges to their 2019-2020 taxes had been March 1.
Curran, a Democrat, extended the deadline as county and legislative officials continued a public education campaign to show homeowners how to represent themselves when filing assessment challenges, instead of relying on tax grievance firms.
“We want to level the playing field,” said Curran in an interview Wednesday. “Residents should know they have a choice when filing grievances.”
Newsday has reported that 61 percent of the county’s residential and commercial property owners have appealed their assessments since 2010. They had an average increase in their property tax bills of about five percent or $466, compared with an average jump of 35.7 percent, or $2,748, for those who didn’t appeal.
Historically, affluent property owners file appeals with the greatest frequency, often with the help of politically connected tax firms that collect half of first-year assessment reductions as their fee.
“It is fair to give our residents more time to educate themselves about their rights to grieve their property taxes,” said Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport).
“I support extending the deadline for taxpayers to file an assessment challenge,” said presiding officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park). “Taxpayers should be given every opportunity to exercise their rights.”
Tax grievance firms and their principals have contributed $15,000 to Curran since her November election and a combined $46,000 since 2016.
Curran said she was not discouraging residents from using the firms but providing them with additional options.
Last year, a record 10 percent, or about 23,000 homeowners who filed grievances, did so on their own, said Jeff Gold, a Bellmore attorney who teaches property owners to file claims themselves.
Gold, a Democrat who lost a race for the legislature last year, called the extension “a good start.”
But he said the county needs to provide greater clarity and “transparency on the standards for determining grievances . . . Anyone can fill out these forms. But the question is, ‘should they?’”
Last month Curran formed a task force to develop reforms to the assessment system. The group’s recommendations are due back in the coming weeks, Curran said.
Mangano extended the grievance deadline twice last year, first after Newsday published its investigation of the assessment system and then because of a March snowstorm.