NASSAU COUNTY PROPERTY REASSESSMENT
Nassau County has embarked on a countywide property reassessment for the first time since tax rolls were frozen in 2011. County Executive Laura Curran says the reassessment is necessary to develop an accurate tax roll that will hold up under court challenges. Nassau already has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to pay successful tax challenges.
Roughly 52 percent of homeowners will see a tax increase while 48 percent will see a tax decrease under current plans.
The county is mailing notices to homeowners, showing the new market values of their homes under reassessment. The notices also show homeowners their 2017-18 property taxes, including for schools, and their hypothetical 2020-21 taxes.
Nassau County Assessor David Moog says the overwhelming number of homeowners will see their market values rise, after years of frozen assessments.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean their tax bills will rise by the same percentage as the market value. Generally, homeowners are more likely to see tax increases if they had grieved continuously over the years, driving down their market values, Moog said.
Also, the impact of the reassessment can vary significantly by school district.
Frequently asked questions:
What will reassessment do?
Nassau County is reassessing more than 400,000 residential and commercial properties on the tax rolls. The new values will take effect in the 2020-21 tax year.
Lawmakers from both parties have agreed the reassessment is long overdue.
Tax rolls were frozen in 2011 by the administration of former County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican who served from 2010 through 2017. His administration began work on the reassessment. County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat who is in her first year in office, ordered the reassessment completed in time for 2019.
In March, the Nassau County Legislature approved contracts with outside companies to calculate new residential market values. Overwhelmingly, residents’ market values were too low, the companies found.
A practice of agreeing to mass settlements of tax challenges, along with the frozen tax roll, “severely degraded the accuracy and integrity of assessments and shifted the tax burden disproportionately,” according to the assessment department’s website.
How did Nassau get here?
Over the years, homeowners who grieved their assessments successfully shifted more of the tax burden onto those who did not. Newsday earlier this year found the value of the shift in the tax burden, largely from more affluent property owners to everyone else, reached about $2.2 billion in the program’s seventh year, which includes October 2017 and January 2018 tax bills.
What’s the impact of reassessment?
Under reassessment, about 52 percent of Nassau homeowners will see tax increases, while 48 percent will see reductions, according to county projections.
More than 39,000 homeowners will see increases of more than $3,000, while 33,000 will see reductions of that size.
More than 11,000 residents will have increases of $5,000 or more, while more than 10,000 will see reductions in that range.
The county has mailed “Tax Impact Notices” reflecting homeowners’ new market values. The notices also show homeowners' total taxes in 2017-18 and 2020-21, so they can see how much their taxes are projected to go up or down.
What has happened with the level of assessment?
In March, Curran signed an executive order unfreezing the tax rolls. Assessment increases were limited to 6 percent in the first year, and 20 percent over five years, in accordance with state law.
The order said the level of assessment — the fraction of market value at which homes are assessed — would be .25 percent. That figure is used to calculate tax bills.
In September, Curran issued another order lowering the level of assessment to .1 percent. That would allow homes to be assessed much closer to their new market values.
Continuing to use the larger fraction would not result in an accurate tax roll and do little to erase inequities in the tax burden, Curran administration officials have said.
Majority Republicans in the Nassau Legislature have accused Curran of reneging on a deal that would have resulted in fewer swings in tax bills of those who successfully challenged their assessments over the years. Some Democrats also have criticized Curran for rushing reassessment and the resulting tax hikes.
Curran has proposed a Taxpayer Protection Plan. What would it do?
Curran is lobbying members of the New York State Legislature to pass a bill to phase in assessment increases over a five-year period. Homeowners’ assessments would reflect their new market values by the fifth year. The phase-in would slow tax hikes for homeowners who have grieved, and also slow reductions for those who haven't.
The State Legislature, which is out of session until January, must approve the bill.
How many increases or decreases
The county is forecasting how many property owners will see increases or decreases under the new plan, depending on whether it is phased in or not. Click the arrow to move through three charts that explain the breakdown, and click on any bar segment for details.
You can see specifics on what this will do to taxes in your school district.
What are homeowners saying about reassessment?
Homeowners who most likely will see tax increases are those who grieved their assessments frequently, according to county officials.
Some taxpayers are angry about the increases. They say they played by the rules and were prodded by county lawmakers and other officials to file grievances.
Many such homeowners also say they are worried about the new $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions in the federal tax bill.
Curran has expressed sympathy for some who have won tax challenges.
"To those of you who played by the rules of this corrupted game and hired tax grievance firms to grieve — you did nothing wrong. You did as you were told," she said recently.
"But you were led to believe this was a permanent fix," Curran said. "They set you up for this day of reckoning — because everyone knows you can’t stay with a frozen roll forever."
Curran and reassessment backers say the readjustment is critical to leveling the playing field for the 48 percent of property owners who shouldered a disproportionate share of the tax burden during the tax freeze. Some of those taxpayers have said they were surprised to learn they had been overpaying for years.
Doing nothing, or using the 0.25 percent level of assessment, would perpetuate the unfairness, reassessment advocates say.
Curran has blamed majority GOP county legislators and Mangano's administration, as well as tax grievance firms, for allowing the assessment problem to worsen. She says she’s the only one tackling the problem.
“What was their solution? What do they say to the 50 percent of homeowners in their districts who have been overpaying for all those years,” Curran said.
Legislative Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said, “We are concerned that we had in the past many, many people who had become underassessed."
Nonetheless, he said, "we are concerned that we will now go to the opposite extreme that we will have many, many people who are overassessed.”
Have there been problems with the reassessment rollout?
Curran's administration corrected 60,000 tax-impact notices posted on the county's website because the assessor had used preliminary, rather than final, values when estimating reassessment's effects on property tax bills.
Moog amended the notices to reflect the "final full market values" for the 2017-18 tax years, which were used as a base for the tax bill estimates. The original notices included tentative assessments that were reduced by successful tax challenges, he said.
Also, 20,000 assessment disclosure notices had to be redone because Nassau mistakenly had increased assessments of those properties by more than the 6 percent allowed by state law.
Moog said Friday that he was adjusting the values on more than 40,000 residential properties after hearing from thousands of homeowners about errors in their new property tax assessments.
Moog called it normal to make corrections after homeowners are notified of their new values following a full reassessment.
What happens next?
The Nassau County Department of Assessment will release its tentative assessment roll for every property on Jan. 2.
Residents have until March 1 to file appeals. The county Assessment Review Commission will review the grievances. The Department of Assessment will publish its final roll, based on the commission's determinations, on April 1, 2020.
Town and city tax receivers will mail school tax bills on Oct. 1, 2020 and general tax bills on Jan. 1, 2021.
Where can I go with questions?
Taxpayers can visit the assessment department office in Mineola, or satellite assessment offices in Westbury, Lido Beach and Roslyn. Satellite offices are open through Jan. 31.
Nassau County residents also can visit the county website, https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/4638/Ask-The-County-Assessor.