Left Uncorrected, Overbillings Could Total $50M by end of Reassessment Phase In
Mineola, NY - An error in the assessed values used by the Nassau County Assessor to calculate the 5-year phase in of a property tax exemption known as the Taxpayer Protection Plan has resulted in the owners of over 16,000 homes being undercharged on property tax bills and the balance of Nassau’s 424,000 property owners being consequently overcharged. Left uncorrected, the error could total $50 million over the 5-year phase in of the new countywide reassessment. In short, the owners of 16,000O properties will be undercharged $50 million and the rest of Nassau’s homeowners will be overcharged by $50 million over the course of 5 years. The examples of the serious errors have been illustrated previously by the Majority Legislators in the form of several multi-million-dollar mansions benefiting from tax bills that total zero in tax dollars owed. Meanwhile, the hardworking owners of hundreds of thousands of working-class homes are being overcharged as the result of the error.
The current error emanated from a previous Assessment Department mistake in the 2020 tentative assessment roll that it generated in January of 2019. The Assessment Department acknowledged the mistake, which was reported in a January 3, 2019 Newsday article (Nassau acknowledges posting incorrect assessment roll). The assessment roll contained approximately 18,000 errors. Although the county administration said the errors were corrected, they apparently failed to correct their own records, resulting in every tax bill in the county being wrong some 22 months later – clearly a lack of basic checks and balances.
While the Assessment Department said it corrected that error, which would have ensured accurate October 2020 school tax bills, the Assessor did not carry forward the correction of the errors for the 5-year phase in of the County Executive’s so-called Taxpayer Protection Plan.
“It is outrageous that Nassau’s taxpayers have been subjected to error after error in a poorly executed reassessment,” said Legislator Bill Gaylor. “The County Executive originally touted this as the fairest reassessment ever, indicating that there would be little need for property tax assessment challenges under the new property values. However, even the Administration now realizes how badly flawed the project has been, actually encouraging the public to challenge their assessments.”
Legislators pointed out one of the results of the major error was that several multi-million-dollar mansion owners were charged zero on their 2020/21 school and general tax bills. A Long Beach home valued at $2.54 million is the subject of zero taxes for 2020/21. The same applies to a Point Lookout house valued at over $4 million. The owners of multi-million-dollar mansions in Kings Point, Lattingtown, Brookville and Centre Island were also gifted with zero tax bills for the 2020/21 tax year.
In specific, the Department of Assessment’s erroneous 2020 tentative assessment roll that was utilized to calculate the 5-year phase in of the County Executive’s reassessment neglected to include 2019 tax challenge reductions. At the same time, it did include illegal assessments placed on approximately 16,000 to 18,000 properties, including multi-million-dollar mansions. As a result of the error, the 2020 assessed valuation pierced (exceeded) a New York State statutory cap on how much property values can increase in a single year. The 6% cap is a safeguard against taxpayer shock / dramatic tax increases. As a result of these errors, 16,000 to 18,000 properties were given a 5-year phase in of their assessed value based on an erroneous (illegal or non-existent) value for the base year (2020).
The mistake was compounded when the Assessment Review Commission (ARC) attempted to correct the Assessment Department’s massive over-assessment of many high-end properties (many well in excess of the statutorily mandated 6% cap), resulting in several multi-million-dollar mansions being the subject of zero tax bills. Beyond the egregious zero tax bills presented to the owners of several multi-million-dollar mansions, many more homeowners were gifted with extremely low (artificially low) tax bills due to the Assessment Department’s error in calculating the 5-year Taxpayer Protection Plan.
“An audit needs to take place in order to restore public trust in the County Executive's botched reassessment process,” said Legislator John Ferretti. “At the same time, I think we clearly need a comprehensive audit to substantiate the extent of the mistake and to recommend steps to remediate the problem, as well as a corrective action plan to prevent the recurrence of mistakes that are costing our taxpayers hard-earned money.”